UK

Reaction to David Cameron's immigration speech

As the prime minister sets out plans to curb welfare benefits for migrants from the EU, how has his speech been received?


Ed Miliband, Labour leader

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"David Cameron has absolutely no credibility on immigration.

"He said 'No ifs, no buts, we will get net migration down' and it's gone up.

"He actually said 'kick us out in five years if we don't deliver'. Well, I certainly agree with that.

"People aren't going to believe his new promises when he has broken his old promises."


Nigel Farage, UKIP leader

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Tweets: "Mr Cameron says we should judge him by his record in Europe. We are, David. We are...it's not good."

He added: "Yes, Mr Cameron *does* owe the British people an apology for his broken promise on net migration. He was asked for one today. He dodged.

"Anyone else notice Mr Cameron say that he'll introduced (sic) new measures for migration? Convenient since he failed his own net migration test", he wrote.

"Here is the Prime Minister using this word 'control' and totally deceiving the British people yet again.

"One thing is true: he has absolutely zero control over the situation.

"It's a cynical attempt to kick the issue into the long grass until after the election.

"I don't think a single person in Britain has bought into any part of what he has said today.

"If this was supposed to be the speech that turned the tide of Cameron's fortunes he may well wish he had never made it."


Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister

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"I think some of the ideas from David Cameron are sensible and workable.

"There are some very serious question marks about whether others will ever really happen in practice and whether they are deliverable.

"I think the danger for the Conservatives is that they repeat mistakes of the past, where they've over-promised and under-delivered on immigration, as they did on the net immigration target, which they've missed, and that does a great deal of damage to public confidence in the immigration system."


Theresa May, Home Secretary

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"We're not saying that we don't think there is anything more to be done.

"We recognise that we haven't achieved the target, we recognised the key issue in that is people coming to the United Kingdom from countries in the European Union and that's why we need to do more about it."


Natalie Bennett, Green Party leader

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Natalie Bennett says "benefits tourism" and "health tourism" are "non-existent problems" the government has not been able to produce evidence of.

She says: "We have major problems in Britain with low wages, with housing shortages and high costs, with crowded schools and hospitals. These are not caused by immigration, but by failures of government policy. An inadequate minimum wage, inadequately enforced, is a key issue.

"Another is housing policy - continuing the privatisation policy that is Right to Buy, failing to allow councils to borrow to build new council homes, encouraging runaway private sector rents.

"And the NHS needs investment, schools need to be brought back under local authority control to allow sensible planning and resource use.

"These are the issues Mr Cameron should have been talking about today to address the real needs of Britain, instead of choosing to pander to the electoral priorities of UKIP."


Pete Wishart, Scottish National Party home affairs spokesman

"By using the language of 'ruling nothing out' if his negotiations with the EU fail, he is making it absolutely clear before he has even started talking to EU leaders that he is edging the UK closer and closer to the exit door.

"He has now made it explicit that he is prepared to lead the UK out and that means Scotland could be removed against our will.

"He is casually jeopardising Scotland's future in the EU and all because he is terrified of the advance of the UKIP - it is not leadership, it is the absolute opposite."


Lord Green, Chairman of Migration Watch UK

"We welcome the prime minister's speech in which he reaffirmed his commitment to a net migration target.

"That said, there is much more to be done.

"Restricting access to in-work benefits is welcome and will be perceived as fair by the public although it is difficult to say what impact this will have on numbers.

"The taxpayer cannot go on subsidising employers that rely on low paid overseas labour for their business model.

"We also welcome the commitment to reform the absurd and much abused rule that makes it easier for an EU national to bring their non-EU spouse to the UK than it is for a Brit to do the same."


Katja Hall, CBI deputy director general

"The UK's openness to trade, people and investment has been the foundation of Britain's success in the past and will remain central in the future.

"Immigration has helped keep the wheels of this recovery turning by plugging skills shortages and allowing UK firms to grow.

"Freedom of movement to work is essential to businesses getting access to the best talent and equally offers British citizens the chance to take up a job anywhere across the EU.

"The EU matters to the future of British jobs and growth so we must work with allies to secure reform.

"The government and businesses need to do more to ensure growth benefits everyone and that means not only helping more people into work, but equipping them with the skills they need to move up the career ladder."


The European Commission

Spokeswoman Margaritis Schinas said: "These are UK ideas and they are part of the debate.

"They will have to be examined without drama and should be discussed calmly and carefully.

"It is up to national lawmakers to fight against abuses of the system and the EU law allows for this."


Simon Walker, Institute of Directors director general

"David Cameron rightly says that there are no simple solutions to what has become a politically disruptive issue.

"IoD members have welcomed - and benefited from - immigrants from other EU member states who work diligently and effectively, often in jobs for which there are few British applicants.

"But business cannot be deaf to broader public concern.

"It is important that all immigrants come to the UK with a purpose and a willingness to contribute productively to the community."


Lord Leach, Open Europe chairman

"The prime minster has struck exactly the right balance between preserving the benefits of free movement of workers to the UK economy and ensuring that that the system is fair for the British public.

"This would both respect the right of free movement and protect British low-wage workers.

"The prime minister was right to avoid a cap or brake on EU migration, which would have been unworkable in practice and simply stored up more problems for the future.

"This is a pragmatic solution that must be part of our future negotiations with our EU partners."


Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee

"I don't believe, and research doesn't support, this view that people are coming into this country just to live on benefits - nor do I believe that they're coming here just for council housing.

"What the prime minister has done is he's put us on the same level as other countries where you can't just arrive there without making a contribution and claim benefits.

"But what's missing is any discussion about numbers, and of course numbers are what we always discuss when talking about immigration.

"The big issue that's missing is the cap.

"Without the cap on numbers coming in here, which would frankly be illegal, this is just a tough message."


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Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre think tank

"I see it as very difficult to get these kind of changes without treaty change.

"We are talking about some fundamental legal provisions around the free movement of people in the European Union.

"I find it very difficult to see how you would do that without treaty change and I would even question whether you could change some of these aspects of the treaty because this is the DNA of the European Union.

"We are talking about the four basic freedoms here."


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Frances O'Grady, TUC general secretary

"The prime minister is taking a sledgehammer to a problem that he has exaggerated.

"People are coming to Britain to work.

"There is little or no evidence that benefits make a difference, so today's announcement will have no impact on numbers.

"It might sound tough, but will only stoke up cynicism and conflict.

"We need a new approach based on ending the UK's status as Europe's exploitation capital."


Alisdair McIntosh, Business for New Europe

"We are concerned about seeming to threaten the EU with the possibility of British exit.

"The prime minister is right that you do not start a conversation with the word 'no', but starting one with a threat is also less likely to succeed.

"We do not have to choose between the huge economic benefits of EU membership and effective immigration policies.

"We need immigration policies that work, but which also allow us to enjoy the advantages of EU membership."


Glenis Willmott, Labour leader in European Parliament

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Mrs Willmott said Mr Cameron was "forever chasing UKIP's tail, desperately trying to appease his braying backbenchers, and in so doing he is in danger of sleepwalking towards the EU exit door, risking billions in investment and millions of jobs".


Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative justice and home affairs spokesman in the European Parliament

"The prime minister is right to focus on the core principle that you have to pay into the system before getting something back out.

"He is also right to focus on the economic incentives that make the UK an attractive place, and to address those pull factors.

"We will seek to build alliances with many MEPs and governments who want to restore faith in the basic principle of free movement of workers."