EU Referendum

David Cameron’s EU deal is blasted as a ‘con’ as it emerges migrants WILL keep getting handouts and still be allowed to send child benefit home despite the PM demanding a four-year ban

  • David Cameron has revealed his package of reforms with the EU today
  • He wanted a four year ban on migrants getting in work benefits 
  • Instead he’s got a brake’ to taper handouts and child benefit limits
  • Deal also offers a ‘red card’ system on new laws and promises on the euro 
  • But Boris Johnson warns the deal doesn’t go far enough for Britain 
  • And Nigel Farage blasts the draft deal it as a ‘complete con’ and ‘pathetic’

The Prime Minister today said he could ‘hand on heart’ tell voters they could get the ‘best of both worlds’ by staying in the EU on new terms of membership.

But the detail of the draft deal revealed EU migrants will continue to be allowed to send child benefit home – but only at the same rate of the equivalent benefit in their own country.

And in-work benefits will now be tapered over the first four years – meaning Mr Cameron faced immediate claims this was a ‘watered down’ version of his manifesto pledge to ban benefits outright for four years.

David Cameron, pictured today promoting his deal in a speech in Chippenham, unveiled his proposals for Britain but faced an immediate backlash from senior Tories

David Cameron, pictured today promoting his deal in a speech in Chippenham, unveiled his proposals for Britain but faced an immediate backlash from senior Tories

  Cameron says reformed EU would offer ‘best of both worlds’


Mr Cameron faced a swift backlash as he published his deal with the EU, which includes restrictions on benefits and new ‘red card’ powers for national parliaments.

Boris Johnson raised severe doubts about the red card system – which will require Britain to ally with 14 other nations to stop EU laws – insisting it was ‘not going to be enough’ and warning there was ‘much more to be done’.

Ukip leader Mr Farage dismissed the deal as a ‘complete con’ while eurosceptic Tories said the offer was ‘trivial’.

But at a speech in Chippenham, Mr Cameron said: ‘I think this best of both worlds – out of the single currency, out of the no borders agreement, out of ever closer union but in the things that work for Britain, that give us jobs, that give us security.

‘That is something worth fighting for.’

Asked if he would recommend Britain join the EU on the terms now on offer, Mr Cameron insisted he ‘sure would’.

 Mr Cameron said the draft deal would mean EU migrants would no longer get ‘something for nothing’ and would reduce the financial pull to Britain.

The draft deal published today remains subject to negotiation and will not be signed off until at least the February EU summit in just over two weeks – but if a deal is struck there Britain will have its referendum in June.

As the draft proposals were published today it emerged:

  • Mr Cameron had wanted an outright ban on new migrants getting handouts but was resisted. Instead, an ’emergency brake’ will mean in work benefits will be tapered the longer people work in Britain and child benefit claims will be pegged to the rate migrants would get at home.
  • Mr Cameron sought an end to the principle of ‘ever closer union’ within Europe in a bid to address fears about Britain’s sovereignty and that of the House of Commons. This is set to be delivered via a ‘red card’ system for national parliaments working together.
  • The Prime Minister also assurances on the single market to ensure the EU is as competitive as possible. The new document proposes measures to improve EU competitiveness.
  • The PM sought recognition some countries, including Britain, will never join the euro and the creation of safeguards for this countries to ensure they are not pulled deeper into the EU. Mr Tusk’s draft proposals say EU law will recognise multiple currencies for the first time.

Mr Cameron first set out his plans for the renegotiation three years ago in a speech at Bloomberg, vowing to deliver a substantial change.

Unveiling the proposals on his four negotiating goals today, Mr Cameron said: ‘This document delivers that substantial change.’

London mayor Boris Johnson, pictured at City Hall today, expressed doubts about the 'red card' system set to be unveiled

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, right in the European Parliament today, said it was ‘ludicrous’ to suggest Mr Cameron had secured a victory while London mayor Boris Johnson, left at City Hall today, expressed doubts about the ‘red card’ system set to be unveiled

 He added: ‘On so many things I was told these things would be impossible. I said I wanted a red card system for national parliaments to stop legislation – people said you won’t get that, it’s there in the document.

‘People said we wouldn’t get the idea of people having to wait four years before getting in-work benefits in Britain – it’s there in the document.

Mr Cameron's draft deal emerged in a complex series of documents published today at the European Commission in Brussels 
Mr Cameron’s draft deal emerged in a complex series of documents published today at the European Commission in Brussels

‘People said you’ll never really manage to sort of get Britain out of the concept of ever-closer union. Again, it’s pretty clearly set out in the document.

‘So real progress, more work to be done, more detail to be nailed down, but we said we needed to deliver in four key areas; this document shows real progress on that front.’

But in the House of Commons, where Jeremy Corbyn called an urgent question on the deal, it was claimed by Tory eurosceptics Mr Cameron had been left ‘polishing poo’.

Asked about the red card plan London Mayor Mr Johnson today told LBC radio: ‘I will look at it. We will have to see how it is explained to us, I haven’t yet got a firm view on it. I have doubts.’

Mr Johnson also raised questions about a proposed ’emergency brake’ on welfare payments to migrants.

‘I think what would be better would be if we had a brake of our own that we were willing to use, and that we were more willing to say ‘Look, Britain is an independent sovereign country and we don’t agree with this particular bit of legislation or regulation and we want to stop it’.

‘That’s what we should be able to do,’ he said.

Ukip Nigel Farage declared the ‘red card’ system was a complete con.

He said: ‘Idea we are being sold that a joint ‘red card’ is some sort of victory is frankly ludicrous. Complete con!’

He added: ‘Today’s draft deal hardly worth the wait, pathetic.’

 Cameron says deal with the EU delivers ‘substantial change’
Mr Cameron today hailed 'real progress' on Britain's relationship with the EU and insisted he had delivered the promised 'substantial change' for Britain 

Mr Cameron today hailed ‘real progress’ on Britain’s relationship with the EU and insisted he had delivered the promised ‘substantial change’ for Britain

European Council president Donald Tusk, who drew up the draft deal after detailed talks, today said 'to be or not to be together that is the question' as he published  the deal 

European Council president Donald Tusk, who drew up the draft deal after detailed talks, today said ‘to be or not to be together that is the question’ as he published  the deal

Steve Baker, chairman of an influential backbench group of Tories, declared: ‘The whole thing is a nonsense.’

He added later: ‘There’s going to be nothing in it that withstands serious scrutiny.’

Questioning Europe Minster David Lidington in the Commons on the deal, Mr Baker said Mr Cameron’s ‘pint-sized package’ of EU reforms for Britain has left the Europe Minister ‘polishing poo’.

Mr Baker insisted the draft deal revealed to MPs ‘smells funny’ while his party colleague Sir Bill Cash doubted the claim it represents a ‘fundamental change’ for the UK’s relationship with the EU. 

Sir Bill added: ‘How can you justify this pint-sized package as a fundamental change in the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union with real democracy for this Parliament, which represents the voters to which you yourself have just referred?” 

Former defence secretary Liam Fox blasted: ‘The very limited set of demands from our Government have been watered down by the EU in every area.

‘The British people want to take back control and end the supremacy of EU law over our economy, our borders and our Parliament.

 Eurosceptic Tory MP accuses David Lidington of ‘polishing poo’

In the House of Commons, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded to know why Mr Cameron had not outlined his deal to MPs first 

  Corbyn criticises Cameron for not making Commons statement


‘None of these changes even come close to the fundamental changes promised to the public. We are being asked to risk staying in the EU based on the back of empty promises from the EU that are not even backed up in Treaty. The only safe option is to Vote Leave.’

Brexit campaign group Leave.EU branded the proposals a ‘fudge and a farce’.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The Prime Minister is still missing the point. Tinkering with benefits for poorly-paid migrant workers won’t address the real challenge of ensuring that everyone who works gets a fair day’s pay.

‘It’s understandable for people to worry about the impact of migration on their communities. But instead of blaming migrant workers the Prime Minister should deal with the root problems, like bad bosses who use migrants to undercut other workers.

‘And corporations who don’t pay their fair share in tax to fund our public services should be dealt with too.’

The deal was warmly endorsed by the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign – and blasted the ‘idiotic hypocrisy’ of leave campaigners.

Tory Sir Nicholas Soames said: ‘In the past, Leave campaigners have called for wide-ranging reforms to Britain’s place in Europe.

‘Yet today they have lambasted the reforms put forward by Donald Tusk before the negotiation is even complete.

‘This is idiotic hypocrisy. These reform proposals are the very areas for change that Leave campaigners have long called for.

‘They have rejected a deal before it has even been secured.

‘Today it’s clear that there is a deep hypocrisy at the heart of the Leave campaigners’ criticisms: they are the only people who have given up on reform and want to walk away from Europe come what may.’

Ukip leader Nigel Farage today branded the deal a 'complete con' while Theresa May and Boris Johnson reportedly also have doubts 

Ukip leader Nigel Farage today branded the deal a ‘complete con’ while Theresa May and Boris Johnson reportedly also have doubts

Mr Farage accused the Prime Minister of 'fiddling at the edges' rather than delivering the substantial change he had promised 

Mr Farage accused the Prime Minister of ‘fiddling at the edges’ rather than delivering the substantial change he had promised

In a move likely to prove crucial to critics of the deal the principle of freedom of movement remains untouched.

The PM had made limiting immigration a key issue when announcing his plans for a referendum in 2013 in a speech at Bloomberg.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was a Commons urgent question on the deal and protested Mr Cameron’s absence.

Mr Corbyn said: ‘He (Mr Cameron) is trumpeting the sovereignty of national parliaments as part of the renegotiations but doesn’t seem to respect the sovereignty of this Parliament by coming here today to make the statement he should have done.

‘Also, it appears that journalists were given a very heavy briefing and copies of this document earlier this morning if not yesterday, no member of this House received it before them, they are given the briefing.

‘Once again no process of coming to Parliament, every process about engagement with the media rather than this House.

‘This whole process conducted by the Prime Minister is not about engaging with Parliament, is not about engaging with the necessary questioning by MPs, it is about managing the problems within the Conservative Party about this.’

Publishing the draft, Mr Tusk said: ‘To be, or not to be together, that is the question… My proposal for a new settlement for #UKinEU.’

Mr Cameron, seen at the rear entrance to Downing Street today, has insisted there remains a lot of hard work to be done before the EU summit later this month where he hopes to conclude today's deal 

 He added the package was ‘a good basis for a compromise’, adding that ‘there are still challenging negotiations ahead. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

The Prime Minister will travel to Poland and Denmark on Friday to continue talks on finalising the deal.

Few signals emerged from eastern Europe today in response to deal amid speculation the proposals could quickly run into fresh opposition.

But Tomas Prouza, the Czech state secretary for EU affairs, said the creation of a safeguard mechanism to respond to an influx of workers from other EU member states is an acceptable solution in a draft deal with Britain.

Mr Johnson said Mr Cameron had ‘done a very good job of renegotiating at huge speed a very difficult package of measures’.

‘Everybody would want to see more progress and let’s see where we get,’ he added. ‘So far he has been doing a very very good job of getting people to see things his way.

‘I think there is much, much more, however, that needs to be done.’

Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed), a member of Conservatives For Britain, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘It’s all really rather trivial, as far as I’m concerned. I was hoping to see something much more confident and focused on what Britain needs.’

Mrs Trevelyan said the red card system would mean ’16 countries have got to gang together against whatever the new idea is in order for it to be stopped’.



1. Benefits 

Mr Cameron told Mr Tusk: ‘We have proposed that people coming to Britain from the EU must live here and contribute for four years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing. And that we should end the practice of sending child benefit overseas.’

2. Sovereignty

‘While the European Parliament plays an important role, I want to enhance the role of national parliaments, by proposing a new arrangement where groups of national parliaments, acting together, can stop unwanted legislative proposals. The precise threshold of national parliaments required will be a matter for the negotiation.’

3. Competitiveness

‘The United Kingdom believes we should bring together all the different proposals, promises and agreements on the Single Market, on trade, and on cutting regulation into a clear long-term commitment to boost the competitiveness and productivity of the European Union and to drive growth and jobs for all.’

4. The euro 

‘Britain is not seeking a new opt-out for the UK in this area – we have the opt-out from the single currency we need. Nor are we looking for a veto over what is done in the Eurozone. What we seek are legally binding principles that safeguard the operation of the Union for all 28 Member States – and a safeguard mechanism to ensure these principles are respected and enforced.’


 1. Benefits 

The EU has offered Mr Cameron the power to taper new EU migrants onto in work benefits over a four year period. Sending child benefit abroad will not be banned but migrants will not receive more than they would from equivalent benefits at home.

2. Sovereignty

Mr Cameron has secured a ‘red card’ system whereby a group of 15 parliaments can come together to protest a new EU law. In response there would be a comprehensive discussion of the issue. Boris Johnson has warned this does not go far enough and said Britain should have its own power to kick out new EU laws that it does not like.

3. Competitiveness

The new draft clauses contain new commitments on improving the competitiveness of the single market. The drafts commit to ensuring the European Commission will be ‘closely monitoring’ progress but there is little in the way of firm detail – something critics are likely to seize upon.

4. The euro

For the first time, EU law will recognise there is more than one currency within the European Union. In addition, there is a specific exclusion for countries outside the eurozone protecting them from having to take part in any future bailouts. Under the plan the euro area will ‘respect the competences, rights and obligations’ of those outside the single currency area.

 EU Council President Donald Tusk outlined the draft of what had been agreed in a letter, with the key conclusions to each of Mr Cameron's requests pictured above, to all 28 EU heads of government today

EU Council President Donald Tusk outlined the draft of what had been agreed in a letter, with the key conclusions to each of Mr Cameron’s requests pictured above, to all 28 EU heads of government today

‘We are not seeing anything that allows us to take control of our country so I think I will be ending up voting to leave,’ she added. 

In a key gain for Home Secretary Theresa May – tipped as the most senior Cabinet minister still weighing up whether to campaign for Brexit – the document makes clear that EU states are entitled to refuse access ‘on preventative grounds’ to individuals likely to threaten national security, even if the threat is not imminent.

It also includes provisions for member states to tackle the use of fraud or sham marriages to gain the right to enter and remain.

But her declaration for Out would be a huge boost to the array of Leave campaigns which have struggled to establish themselves amid infighting.

Chief executive Matthew Elliott said: ‘What the Government is asking for from the EU is trivial – these proposals will not take back control from the EU. These gimmicks have been ignored by the EU before and will be ignored again as they will not be in the EU treaty.

‘The Government are asking us to trust the promises of the EU Commission and EU judges rather than taking back control.

‘If the public want Parliament to have the power to block damaging EU laws then the only safe option is to Vote Leave.’

The red card system will be presented as a rabbit pulled from the hat during Mr Cameron’s months of talks. It secures a Tory election manifesto commitment.

The draft proposal says that if 55 per cent of national parliaments club together, they can block or amend proposed legislation.

But critics said Britain would require the support of 14 other states and could routinely be outmanoeuvred by the 19-country eurozone. Existing EU laws would not be affected.

A Number 10 source said: ‘As the Prime Minister has said, it is national parliaments which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU and this breakthrough will ensure that national parliaments’ voices are heard loud and clear in Brussels.

‘Following intense discussions on the draft text throughout Monday in Brussels, further progress has been made and the president of the European Council has now confirmed that he will circulate the draft negotiating text to all member states today.

Following talks between David Cameron and EU Council president Donald Tusk on Sunday night, pictured, a draft deal on Britain's membership will be unveiled today

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