David Cameron has said that “further action” is needed to establish more effective control of migration, amid reports that he is about to make the issue a “red line” in his planned renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
The Prime Minister is said to be considering asking for an “emergency brake” mechanism which would allow the UK to block EU migrants if numbers go above a level judged to be damaging to public services.
It has also been suggested he is ready to say that if he does not get what he wants, he will campaign for a British exit in the in/out referendum he has planned for 2017.
Some Conservative backbenchers are urging him to take a harder line on immigration and to set out what he will demand in EU membership renegotiations to try and fend off the threat from the UK Independence Party.
Ukip is hoping to secure its second elected MP next month in the by-election triggered by the defection of Mark Reckless.
Mr Cameron has so far shied away from suggesting that he could back an “out” vote in his promised referendum, insisting that he is confident he will be able to secure a better deal for Britain in the renegotiation.
Yorkshire UK Independence Party MEP Amjad Bashir said: “The Prime Minister knows quite well that the EU will not restrict free movement of European migrants.
“In this latest PR trick he is hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of voters who increasingly support UKIP and our call for total control of our borders.
“David Cameron has thrown a number of options into the air in a desperate bid to save his own skin but like so many spinning plates they will all come crashing to the ground in pieces.
“The real emergency brake he seeks is to halt the haemorrhaging support for his party. He is telling his backbenchers what they want to hear to stop them crossing the floor to UKIP.”