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Cameron migrant stance criticised

Poland's foreign minister has hit out at David Cameron's plans to strip child benefit payments from European Union migrants who have left their offspring in their home country.

Radoslaw Sikorski said there was no need for the Prime Minister to "stigmatise" Poles by singling out the nation's migrant workers in comments about his proposals to reform EU welfare rules.

The Prime Minister said it was "wrong" that child benefit should be paid to support workers' families who remained in Poland and outlined plans to push for a change in the EU treaties to end the practice.

But Mr Sikorski wrote on Twitter: "If Britain gets our taxpayers, shouldn't it also pay their benefits? Why should Polish taxpayers subsidise British taxpayers' children?"

He added: "UK social security rules apply to all resident EU citizens. No need to stigmatise Poles. What about British children abroad?"

The Prime Minister has announced a series of measures to cut immigration, including proposals intended to show the UK is not a soft touch for EU migrants.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Cameron said of reports that some UK-based migrants are claiming benefits for children in their home country: "Well, I don't think that is right and that is something I want to change.

"It's a situation that I inherited. I think you can change it, I think it will take time because we either have to change it by getting agreement with other European countries, and there are European countries who, like me, think it's wrong that someone from Poland who comes here and works hard - and I'm absolutely all in favour of that - but I don't think we should be paying child benefit to their family back at home."

He said one way of changing that was "the treaty change that I'll be putting in place before the referendum that we'll hold on Britain's membership of the EU by the end of 2017".

The Prime Minister plans a renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the EU before a UK referendum on whether to sever ties with Brussels.

But Mr Sikorski's comments would appear to indicate that Polish support for a treaty change ending the EU-wide benefits rules is unlikely.

EU migrants working in the UK are entitled to the same benefits as Britons, although the Government has rushed through a plan to introduce a three-month wait before they can claim out-of-work benefits.

Mr Sikorski said if the Prime Minister was concerned about the benefits being paid he should make the UK's system less generous for all, not just EU migrants.

In a conversation with Twitter users he said: " That's the point. Make your social security less generous if you wish, but without discriminating among resident EU taxpayers."

Responding to Mr Sikorski's comments, David Cameron's official spokesman told a daily Westminster press briefing: "The Prime Minister's view won't have changed. He set it out in yesterday's media interview.

"It is one of the points he made in his speech on migration in March last year. It remains the Prime Minister's long-standing view."


From Belfast Telegraph