Cameron to exploit refugee crisis to influence EU negotiations

© Yannis Behrakis
Prime Minister David Cameron will attempt to use the ongoing refugee and migrant crisis to argue that the European Union needs to tighten up its borders and restrict free movement, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has stated.

He said talks with other EU officials in Brussels had revealed that eastern European nations are realizing the problems caused by large-scale immigration, after taking in large numbers of refugees and migrants.

He added the Prime Minister would use the crisis as leverage to increase support for his renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU.

Interior ministers agreed on Tuesday to distribute individuals fleeing war and violence across member states. They over-rode protests from a number of eastern European countries, which have experienced huge numbers of migrants attempting to travel across their borders.

The migration crisis has thrown into stark relief some of the issues that the European Union has to deal with,” Hammond said.

That plays directly into some of the issues that we are raising in our renegotiation proposition.”

“Interestingly, some of the countries that we have seen today who have the most robust views on the external migration agenda, have been the ones also with the very strong views around ‘no change to freedom of movement internally,’” he added.

The fact we are having this broader debate about migration flows within Europe of newly arrived migrants, is perhaps focusing attention of some people in a way that hasn’t been focused before about the challenges migration at scale presents,” Hammond concluded.

However, Cameron will face a battle in Brussels, after he was deserted by Denmark, one of his political allies on EU reform.

The debates come as the first Syrian refugees to be re-settled in the UK, arrived on Wednesday, according to the Home Office.

No details were provided about the exact number of refugees arriving or where they will be housed.

The individuals are part of the recently-announced plan to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees before 2020, and will be relocated under the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme.

The refugees will not be granted asylum immediately, but instead will receive a humanitarian status, which allows them to apply for asylum after five years.

Cameron emphasized the refugees would be taken from UN-registered camps in Lebanon and Jordan and they would select the most deserving.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are working closely with the UNHCR and local authorities to make sure we are ready to welcome more Syrians who desperately need our assistance.

“Today a number of people have arrived in the UK as part of the vulnerable persons resettlement scheme. As the prime minister announced earlier this month, we will resettle 20,000 Syrians over the course of this parliament through this scheme,” the spokesperson added.

LISTEN MORE: