U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wants no further restrictions on immigration from the European Union, saying limits already proposed will be sufficient to protect Britain from an influx from eastern Europe.
“Our challenge is to rebuild consent for the idea that people should be able to move across Europe to look for work,” Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, wrote in an op-ed piece in the Sunday Times today. “But that means being crystal clear that the right to come and work in the U.K. is not an automatic right to claim benefits.”
Responding to public concern about an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians into the U.K. after controls on workers from the two countries are lifted next month, the government is tightening rules on migrants’ access to state-funded benefits. Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted Britain will veto any further expansion of the EU unless a tighter control is in place on migrations of workers, according to the Guardian.
While Clegg supported the tightening, he said talk of arbitrary caps on the number of EU nationals is pointless and distracting.
“Many in the Conservative party support these reforms because they want to edge out of Europe,” he wrote. “My party, the Liberal Democrats, does so because we want to stay in.”