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EU Referendum

Asylum seekers: is the European Commission actually trying to push Britain out of the EU?

Brussels’ ham-fisted attempts to solve the refugee crisis will foist even more migrants on Britain – which would make Brexit more likely

Nigel Farage during a press conference to announce Ukip's intention to support the 'No' campaign in the referendum

Nigel Farage during a press conference to announce Ukip’s intention to support the ‘No’ campaign in the referendum Photo: Will Oliver/EPA


Only the European Union could tackle one crisis by making another much worse. Jean Claude-Juncker may have insisted recently that he feels the UK needs the EU, but the European Commission President’s new proposal to deal with the refugee crisis will surely strain British support for the EU. For just as Britons prepare for a referendum on membership, the UK now faces being prevented from deporting thousands of asylum seekers unless it agrees to EU refugee quotas.

Mr Juncker proposes to tear up the “Dublin” rules that require them to stay in the first European country they step foot in. This would end member states’ ability to deport failed asylum seekers, after the influx of a million migrants via Greece to Germany rendered the rules a farce.

“The Commission proposal would remove one of the Remain campaign’s arguments for staying in the EU.”
 These rules are very important to those who argue that Britain should stay in the EU. They say that Dublin makes it easier for Britain to manage the flow of asylum seekers, and that outside the EU, the UK would find it harder to return asylum seekers to the EU state they first arrived in.
 “In fact, if we left the EU, we would find it harder to manage the flow of migrants and asylum seekers because we would no longer be covered by its Dublin regulation.”

And here’s Sir Hugh Orde, a former police chief, writing for the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign:

Outers… “forget that the EU’s Dublin regulations enable us to send migrants back to the European country in which they were first processed.”

In other words, the Commission proposal would remove one of the Remain campaign’s arguments for staying in the EU.

David Cameron claims that his renegotiation will “restore a sense of fairness to our immigration system”. ,The Commission risks undermining the idea that any member state can keep control of its borders in the EU – just when the Prime Minister desperately needs to build up that idea in voters’ minds. While the Commission insists that the UK can choose not to participate in this new scheme, many Britons will be left reeling by the idea that any member state will have to take in more migrants if it doesn’t want to.

The Ukip leader has been busy framing the EU referendum around the issue of migration, telling MEPs earlier this week that British voters fear North African migrants will get European passports and the right of free movement within years.

The Prime Minister, he said, won’t “get back control of our borders and the British people know that those young men in Cologne, in a few years’ time will have EU passports and be free to come to Britain”. “Those of us that have warned that unlimited numbers of people from different cultures without security checks would pose a threat to the cohesion of our societies were roundly abused for doing so,” he declared.

 He will know that his rhetoric will cut through, as immigration is regularly ranked as one of – if not the – top concern by voters.

Controlling immigration remains a very persuasive argument in the referendum debate, with YouGov polling finding that even those tempted to vote to keep Britain in the EU feel that it is one of the most persuasive reasons to back Brexit .

Snap 2016-01-20 at 22.21.35
 MEPs have given this short shrift, with Liberal bloc leader Guy Verhofstadt blaming the migrant crisis on the “cold” British government. On top of this, he suggested that the British renegotiation should be scrapped from the agenda in February to focus solely on the refugee crisis, warning: “It could very well be the case that we find a way out of the Brexit issue and Britain remains in the European Union, while at the same time finding ourselves without a European Union”.

However, ignoring Britons’ concerns about immigration could very easily see them want to get out of the EU. And if Britain leaves, the EU could fall apart much sooner.

Juncker’s team may justify such a step as part of a wider agenda to tackle the refugee crisis, but such an EU-wide programme could encourage doubts among Britons about whether it is worth staying in. Nigel Farage must be wondering if he needs to buy Mr Juncker a drink to thank him for the help.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12109543/Asylum-seekers-is-the-European-Commission-actually-trying-to-push-Britain-out-of-the-EU.html

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