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Monday, November 24, 2014

Pandering to the UKIP agenda

The Times reports on an interesting and thought-provoking intervention in the debate on immigration from Tory heavyweight, Ken Clarke.

Mr. Clarke argues that that stopping EU nationals from claiming benefits in Britain would be “totally discriminatory” and that in trying to “imitate” Ukip, the UK Government would only make them “more credible”:

In an interview with the Murnaghan programme on Sky News today, Mr Clarke, the Europhile former cabinet minister, said Mr Cameron’s approach was to blame for the poll surge that resulted in Nigel Farage’s party winning the Rochester and Strood by-election last week.

“I do think the tactics of the two major parties of government – the serious parties of government – of trying to imitate Ukip since then have actually made them more credible and has gifted them two by-elections,” he said.

“We were campaigning in a way that was supporting their anti-European, anti-immigration front.

“We have probably provoked a whole fresh rash of demands from Eurosceptics in the media and in parliament for yet more demands from Europe and leaving Europe.”

Mr Clarke said that the party now had to get back to a “serious agenda” where Ukip “have no policies worth talking about”.

He added that talking about the economy was “a damn sight more sensible than ‘how can we be rude to Europeans to cheer up Ukip?”’

“What we mustn’t do is keep trailing all kinds of suggestions of things we can think of that might be nasty to Europeans on the benefit front,” he added.

I am not convinced that the evidence is there to back up the Prime Minister and UKIP's assertions that European Union migrants are abusing the benefits system.

Irrespective of that, it is clear that if Cameron pushes ahead with his proposals then Britain would effectively be walking away from the European Union and all its benefits, without any attempt to negotiate new terms of membership.
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