The prime minister of the UK, David Cameron, is said to be preparing to introduce new immigration legislation to help combat the electoral challenge presented by the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Mr Cameron is said to be considering legislation to limit immigration from eastern Europe.
The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper which supports the Conservatives reported on 24th May that a new immigration bill was likely to be announced by the Queen in her speech to parliament in early June. The Queen's Speech is an annual event. In it, the Queen outlines the legislation the government intends to introduce within the next year.
'Block Europeans'The paper says that the bill is likely to contain measures designed to 'block Europeans from poor countries coming to Britain for work'.
Among the measures that are said to be in the bill are the following
- Steps to discourage UK companies from employing foreign workers
- Provisions to allow the deportation of unemployed EU citizens if they have been unemployed in the UK for six months
- A 'wealth test' to prevent people coming from the UK from poorer EU countries
Further details are not currently available.
UKIPUKIP was founded in 1993 as a single issue party to campaign for the UK to leave the European Union. It has grown rapidly and, on 22nd May, gained the most votes at the UK's elections to the European Parliament. It took 27% of the vote and won 24 of the UK's 73 seats. It beat the main opposition party, Labour, into second place and Mr Cameron's Conservatives into third.
UKIP has gained a great deal of support by combining its anti-EU message with an anti-immigration message. It says that, as a member of the EU, the UK cannot control immigration because of the principle of the free movement of labour. This is one of the central tenets of the EU. Citizens of all EU countries are allowed to live and work in all other EU countries.
This EU rule has resulted in high levels of immigration especially from the former communist countries of Eastern Europe that joined in 2004. It is estimated that over 1m people from Poland, the Baltic States and other eastern countries now live in the UK.
Anti-immigration sentimentThis has led to some resentment among UK citizens. Polling shows that 75% of the UK population supports a reduction in immigration. Polling showed that UKIP were likely to top the polls for some weeks before the election.
The Conservatives fear that UKIP might take enough votes from them at the UK's national elections in 2015 to allow the Labour Party win a majority.
Mr Cameron and his cabinet colleagues are therefore looking at legislation which will convince voters that the Conservatives are an acceptable anti-EU alternative.
Government 'will respond to public concern'The Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) George Osborne, told a Conservative conference on 23rd May that the government was preparing to respond to public concern over immigration and Europe.
He said 'We need to take the public anger about issues like immigration, jobs and welfare and deliver answers that work'.
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