EU Referendum

EU benefits deal will last seven years: Britain will be allowed to stop migrant handouts for longer under new Europe deal

  • The Prime Minister will claim his ‘emergency brake’ has been beefed up 
  • Agreement that four-year stop on new migrants claiming benefits is close 
  • Eurosceptics say it’s a ‘pitiful red herring’ and will not affect immigration 
  • A leaked draft of the PM’s EU agreement has been denounced as ‘feeble’

As his trump card in the renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the rest of the EU, the Prime Minister will claim his much-criticised ‘emergency brake’ has been beefed up following talks with European leaders.

But Eurosceptics say the move is a ‘pitiful red herring’ which will have no impact on levels of immigration, and amounts to asking the EU for permission to tinker with our own welfare system.

Conservatives who want Britain to remain in the EU have been hoping Mr Cameron will secure a new concession to announce when he returns from the negotiations next Friday.

As he tries to bolster his referendum deal, Mr Cameron is close to clinching agreement that the four-year ‘brake’ on new migrants claiming benefits in Britain will start straight away and last for seven years.

He is expected to argue that the Government will use this seven-year period to negotiate a permanent solution for benefits with the potential for changes to EU treaties to achieve this.

A leaked draft of his agreement with Brussels has already been denounced as ‘feeble’. Further changes leaked this week suggest protections for the City of London have already been watered down.

The Tory election manifesto last year called for a blanket four-year ban on migrants to the UK claiming state handouts such as tax credits, housing benefit and child benefit after they arrive. But the plan met fierce resistance, particularly from Eastern European countries.

It is understood that the seven-year ‘brake’ on benefits has been secured in recognition of the fact that, unlike other EU countries, Britain did not impose transitional controls on migration from Eastern European countries in 2004 when the EU expanded. The decision was blamed for allowing migration to soar.

 Under the new plan, workers coming to Britain will initially be banned from in-work benefits altogether but they will be phased in over four years as they pay in to the system.

However, the emergency brake would only apply when the EU is convinced that the influx of workers is of such an ‘exceptional magnitude’ that it overwhelms the welfare system or public services.

Hundreds of migrants arrived by train on the Hungarian and Austrian border in a stock photograph last year


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