Dilemma for Cameron as Merkel appears to reserve free movement

bird07:26 Monday 3rd November 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: It looks like life has just got a bit tougher for David Cameron this morning, when it comes to his plans to try and renegotiate the rules for Britain in the EU. Reports coming from Germany claim its Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning the Prime Minister that his drive to curb immigration is pushing Britain towards leaving the EU. Angela Merkel is quoted as saying she’s prefer the UK to leave the EU completely rather than compromise the free movement of workers. Let’s get more on this from our reporter Gavin Lee. Talk us through Gavin what Angela Merkel appears to be saying here.

GAVIN LEE: Morning Dotty. Well they’re not exact quotes. It’s interesting. Der Spiegel is an influential news magazine which tends to have the ear, and people tend to notice because it’s got the ear, of certain German ministers. And they are quoting people within Angela Merkel’s office saying that she has personally specifically met and raised the issue of migration with David Cameron, and said to him that if he tries to impose quotas on the number of people who came to Britain from elsewhere in Europe, the UK then reaches a point of no return on staying within the European Union. And it says for the first time that the German Chancellor is actually seeing the possibility of a British exit completely from the European Union, and it’s a step too far to touch migration. And it’s interesting, first and foremost because Germany is the key player to negotiate with, one of the most powerful members of Europe, and also because if you go back over the years, for about a year or two Angela Merkel has herself seemed quite sympathetic to the British cause. She has been very keen on new laws in Germany to stop people coming there to live on benefits. This year it’s a twenty year high in Germany for immigration, more than 400,000 immigrants.But I think when it comes to the overall movement of migrants, here seems to be the red line being set up by Germany.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And have we had any reaction from Downing Street on this?
GAVIN LEE: Well it’s interesting, because both Downing Street and the Chancellor’s office haven’t commented. There’s no denial, but no confirmation that this meeting took place either, on which you would usually hear a straight outright denial. What the spokesperson for David Cameron is saying is that he will continue as planned for his speech, and he’s working now to set out what he would like to see, with changes to Europe and with migration as well, which will be a key principle of changing and getting a place Britain wants to see before any referendum. This will take place sometime before Christmas Day. No date yet given. It’s clear he doesn’t want to talk about it at the moment. You and I will probably talk about it a few times, because there’s going to be some political game playing now, with different countries, different leaders, setting out their stall, trying to set the framework for David Cameron’s speech ahead of it.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Gavin, thank you very much.