Fury over PM’s ‘stopgap’ deal on EU benefits: Cameron accused of being ‘fobbed off’ by Brussels

  • David Cameron to meet European Council president for EU summit at No10
  • Mr Cameron will agree to a stopgap deal over work-in benefits for migrants
  • Deal means government can stop payments only if welfare state is overrun
  • PM previously pledged to stop migrants claiming benefits for four years 

The Prime Minister is due to meet European Council president Donald Tusk at a No 10 dinner to thrash out a draft deal over the UK’s demands for concessions.

But although Mr Cameron has pledged he would stop all EU migrants coming to the UK from claiming in-work benefits for four years, No 10 admitted yesterday that he was prepared to accept a watered down ‘emergency brake’ on the payouts – if Britain could prove its welfare system was overrun.

Prime Minister David Cameron (left) will meet European Council president Donald Tusk (right) at a No 10 dinner

 A senior Government source said the PM would tell Mr Tusk the ‘brake’ proposal should be ‘a stopgap to a more permanent mechanism’.

The suggestion was derided by ‘Out’ campaigners, who pointed out that just two months ago Mr Cameron had insisted any agreement ‘must be on a basis that is legally binding and irreversible’.

Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of Vote Leave, said: ‘The idea that the UK is going to be fobbed off with a “stopgap” is embarrassing.

‘The Prime Minister aimed very low and appears to be missing spectacularly. The demands are trivial. Even if Mr Cameron is successful, EU judges – not British politicians – would be in control of our borders.’

 A Eurosceptic source added: ‘This is a gift to us. The proposal is an admission that the deal, far from being legally binding and irreversible, is only a promise of some sort of ill-defined mechanism after the referendum.

‘This is handing Brussels a blank cheque. No 10 is making more promises of change to be agreed after the referendum, when the EU will have no interest in making concessions.’

Downing Street said the ‘brake’ would only be accepted as part of the negotiations if it could be triggered immediately after the referendum, apply long enough to resolve the underlying problem and was ‘significantly strengthened’ to come closer to Mr Cameron’s original proposal.

Mr Cameron previously said he would stop all migrants coming to the UK from claiming in-work benefits for four years. However,  he is now set to agree a new  'emergency break' deal on benefits with EU ministers 

 The Government source insisted: ‘The Prime Minister intends to leave Mr Tusk in no doubt that he will not do a deal at any price, making clear he is not in a hurry, and that it’s far more important to secure significant reforms.’

The draft deal brokered with Mr Tusk is expected to be published later this week, ahead of a crunch Brussels summit on February 18 to finalise the terms.

The earliest the referendum could be held is in June.

It follows a tumultuous week for the two groups seeking to lead the ‘Out’ campaign – Vote Leave and Leave.Eu – which included failed talks about a merger and a botched attempt by Tory MPs in the Vote Leave group to remove their controversial campaign director, Dominic Cummings.

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