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2 Feb, 2016 10:44

EU negotiations: Tusk offers Cameron migrant benefits compromise

EU negotiations: Tusk offers Cameron migrant benefits compromise

European Council President Donald Tusk has offered British Prime Minister David Cameron a compromise on the ‘emergency brake’ that the PM has tried to secure as part of the renegotiation of Britain’s membership of the EU.

The offer will see a graduated removal of in-work benefits for four years and will not be an outright ban, as Cameron initially suggested.

Tusk’s letter, published on Tuesday morning, states the benefit restriction will “take account of the growing connection of the worker with the labor market of the host member state.”

Cameron welcomed the draft, but said there was "more to be done."

European Council President Donald Tusk will table proposals for a “new settlement” for the UK’s membership of the European Union on Tuesday, following a weekend of intense negotiations with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

In the House of Commons, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded to know why the prime minister had not attended Parliament to discuss the new measures. He accused Cameron of undermining the very principle he was attempting to achieve by neglecting Westminster.

Europe Minister David Lidington, speaking for the government, attempted to pacify those who believed the draft deal is not strong enough, stressing the government is “in the middle of a live negotiation and in a very crucial stage.”

Speaking in Chippenham, the prime minister laid out the renegotiation plans, saying he has achieved much of what he set out to do, and the new measures will allow Britain to opt out of “ever closer union.”

He also says Britain will not be discriminated against as a non-Eurozone country and extolled the migrant benefit compromise. 

The prime minister confirmed that it may only be "a few months" until a nationwide referendum.

Cameron is expected to have briefed his cabinet on Tuesday morning before the negotiations are made public. It will be the first step to a deal, which Cameron hopes to secure before the next European Council meeting in February.

The PM has also been told he must launch a diplomatic offensive over the next two weeks to ensure that Eastern European leaders agree with his plans to deny benefits to migrants for their first four years in Britain.

Senior Whitehall figures have said the proposed “emergency brake” must be agreed with members of the Visegrád group, which comprises Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland, whose citizens could be affected by the measures.

Visegrád group leaders are worried that agreeing to the terms could affect their chances of winning in domestic elections.

“The prime minister will be focusing quite heavily on the Visegrád group over the next two weeks,” one Whitehall source told the Guardian.

“It is clear that there are nerves about how Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and workers from the Baltic States working in the UK might vote in elections back home.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the latest measures proposed by Tusk did not go far enough. 

However, the talks were criticized by Euroskeptics, who called the weekend a “choreographed charade,” which allowed Cameron to appear as though he is fighting for Britain’s best interest.

Paul Nuttal from UKIP said the weekend had been stage-managed and was full of “theatrics.”

“The theatrics and drama of David Cameron’s sham renegotiation continues and he is playing us for fools.”

He told the BBC: “If the deal is that we are allowed to do it when we want, then yes, but if we have to phone a friend, indeed in this case 27 friends, to decide that we can put our foot on the brake, then no driver in their right mind would get into a car with those sorts of conditions.”