Home Secretary Theresa May has said that only migrants with a job to come to should be allowed into the UK.
The Guardian reports that the Home Secretary is calling for a “rethink” on the principle of freedom of movement within the EU – a founding principle of the European Union.
Although the UK is not a member of the Schengen Area – which enables EU nationals to move freely between member states – rising immigration to Britain from both the EU and non-EU countries is raising alarm.
Latest net migration figures released last week show a peak of 330,000 more people coming to Britain than leaving last year to March 2015. In recent months, numbers of migrants at Calais waiting to cross illegally to the UK has risen to a record high of around 5,000.
Mrs May is arguing that current levels of immigration to the UK are “unsustainable”.
“It puts pressure on infrastructure, such as housing and transport – and public services, such as schools and hospitals,” she wrote in an article published in the Sunday Times.
Mrs May added that the “biggest single factor” preventing the government from meeting its immigration target of tens of thousands a year was net migration from the EU.
“While net migration from outside the EU is 10% lower than it was in 2010, net migration from within the EU has more than doubled,” she writes.
“That is why this government’s renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU is so important.”
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised the UK an in-out referendum on EU membership by 2017.
The Home Secretary said that suggesting that migration could not be controlled within the EU, however, was “defeatist and wrong” – and flies in the face of the evidence.
“Reducing net EU migration need not mean undermining the principle of free movement,” said Mrs May.
“When it was first enshrined, free movement meant the freedom to move to a job – not the freedom to cross borders to look for work or claim benefits,” she added.
Mrs May said that out of the migrants who came to the UK last year, four in ten had no job waiting for them. She added that the “search for a better life” also had economic implications for the countries migrants had left behind.
“A third of Portugal’s qualified nurses have migrated, 20% of the Czech Republic’s medical graduates leave as soon as they qualify – nearly 500 doctors are leaving Bulgaria every year,” Mrs May said.
She also claimed the Schengen agreement had exacerbated the migration crisis seen this summer – saying that the “broken European migration system” had resulted in tragic consequences for migrants at risk of exploitation.
“And the greatest beneficiaries have been the callous gangs who sell false dreams and trade on the free borders within the EU,” she added.
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