Johnson warns of “huge risk” from EU departure

Alan Johnson was interviewed on the BBC today
Alan Johnson was interviewed on the BBC today
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FORMER Home Secretary Alan Johnson has claimed leaving the European Union would be a “huge risk” amid signs David Cameron is ready to water down one of his key demands for reform.

The Prime Minister will tell EU leaders this week that migration is a “major concern” in the UK but will insist that achieving a solution is more important than the way it is done.

Mr Cameron has previously called for a ban on EU citizens from other countries claiming in-work benefits until they have been in the UK for four years but the proposals have won little support among other leaders.

Officials will be told this week to find an option that meets British demands while also being “acceptable to all”, according to Government sources.

Mr Cameron is heading to Brussels on Thursday where, over dinner, he is expected to emphasis that “levels of migration from the EU to the UK are a major concern for the British people” at the European Council summit but will signal he is open to other solutions.

A Government source said: “The Prime Minister is set to reiterate the point he made in his letter and speech last month - that what matters most is to fix the problems not the precise form of the arrangements.

“On welfare, he will aim to unlock the political will necessary to find a solution, effectively giving the green light to officials to work up a solution that would both deliver on the Prime Minister’s objective of better controlling migration from the EU while also being acceptable to all.”

Mr Cameron has previously conceded that no deal will be reached at the summit with the aim instead to seal a package of reforms in February.

Mr Johnson, the Hull West and Hessle MP, is leading the Labour In For Britain campaign.

He said nobody should be complacent about the outcome of the negotiations while leaving the EU would leave Britain’s borders more exposed.