Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says that a loophole is to be closed in the UK’s immigration regulations which allows people from new EU member states to come to the UK because they claim they are self-employed.
Mr Clegg said that 60,000 Romanians and Bulgarians have arrived in the UK and registered as self-employed. He said the figures show that people are right to be concerned about the Government’s claim to be tough on immigration of people from new EU states.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Deputy Prime Minister also insisted that the Lib Dems are a pro-European party and believed in freedom of movement between the different countries in the EU.
But he added: “It is only right – and I say this as a pro-European – that we reform freedom of movement to reflect these realities. It is a right to work. It was never intended as an automatic right to claim benefits, but over time the distinction has been blurred.”
He said that when the EU next enlarges, his party will support the removal of exemptions for free movement of self-employed people from new member states. He said that it was a loophole which “can’t be enforced on Britain and we mustn’t accept it”.
Meanwhile, Labour is looking at stopping unemployment benefits for jobless EU migrants who have not paid any National Insurance contributions in the UK, if it wins the next election.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, said: “It isn’t right that somebody who has worked hard all their lives and has contributed to the system is entitled to only the same as somebody who has just come to this country, so we need to look at that.”