A rebel Tory behind a bid to ban Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants from coming to work in the UK has refused to rule out “crashing” planned new immigration laws.
Nigel Mills insisted he wanted the Immigration Bill to be passed but said it must contain extra restrictions and dodged calls to reject that he would halt its progress.
Around 70 Conservative backbenchers have signed a tweaked amendment to the legislation, which now calls on the Government to reinstate restrictions on migrants from both European Union countries working in Britain until the end of 2018. The Bill returns to the Commons on Thursday.
Mr Mills, who was behind the original amendment, told BBC 1’s Sunday Politics, said voters wanted “something to be done now” about EU migration.
Asked if he would rather see the Bill go down rather than pass without the amendment being accepted, he replied: “I think this is a very important bill, there’s a lot of measures in there I think we all want to see in the statute book.
“I think even the Labour party aren’t opposing them so absolutely the last thing I want to see is this bill go down but I think we do need to set out very clearly that we have real concerns about the level of EU immigration and that something needs to start being done.”
He added: “I think what we should be doing is trying to take some limited and proportionate action and that’s what I have been proposing.
“I don’t want to crash this bill, I want to see this bill on the statute book, I want to see the restrictions on people who shouldn’t be here at all getting bank accounts and driving licences. We need to sort out the Article 8 rights to a family life to make sure they work in our interest.
“So, I don’t want to crash this bill at all but I think there are some more measures needed in it.”
Labour MP Diane Abbott said the row showed a “real antagonism” towards Prime Minister David Cameron by his backbenchers and suggested it could get “pretty gruesome”.
She told the programme: “Nigel Mills is wishing for the impossible and if I was a Tory whip I would be ringing my hands at this moment because he has not ruled out crashing bill.
She added: “When it comes to free movement, which is what has agitated Nigel, in the EU that horse has bolted.
“We signed a treaty. There is nothing that people like Nigel Mills can do unless they want to rip their party apart.”