Cameron says UK Immigration will not be 'a soft touch' for immigrants

David Cameron has given an interview with UK newspaper The Daily Express in which he says he intends to introduce a 'simple, common sense test' which will be used to find out whether immigrants are actually resident in the UK before they are entitled to any UK social benefits such as legal aid, healthcare or unemployment benefit.

Mr Cameron says that he has asked the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to devise the new residency test. Mr Cameron told the Express 'We're a fair and welcoming country but not a soft touch. Let's make sure that ours is the toughest country instead of the softest'.

Mr Cameron told the paper that he has asked ministers to ignore civil servants who say that there is nothing that can be done about immigration. He said 'I've told the ministers…I'm not interested in what you were told to say when you came to this meeting; rip it up, think like a Conservative and make sure you're really doing what is necessary.'

Cameron – immigrants should not come to UK to 'get a council house'

Mr Cameron said he wanted to ensure that immigrants come to the UK 'because there is a particular job of work they want to do – rather than coming here because they want to use the health service or get a council house'

The Prime Minister said that reducing net immigration is vital after the Labour years when net immigration averaged over 200,000 a year. 'Two million people over 10 years net migration into the UK was just much….We were not able to cope with that level of migration' he said.

He said that he intended to see immigration reduce further.

When he was leader of the Opposition, Mr Cameron promised to reduce immigration to below 100,000 annually. His government has to a small extent managed to reduce UK immigration. Net immigration was about 260,000 annually when Mr Cameron came to power in 2010. It is now about 180,000. It has been said these figures may be misleading.

UK cannot stop EU citizens from coming to UK

However, the problem for Mr Cameron is that, while he can change UK laws to reduce immigration from outside the European Union, because the UK is a part of the European Union, he is not allowed to bar EU citizens from moving to the UK to work. In 2004, when ten countries including Poland joined the EU, it is estimated that 750,000 people came to work in the UK within two years.

Anti-immigration organisation Migrationwatch UK says that there will be a big influx of EU migrants in 2014 when citizens of Bulgaria and Romania get the right to work in the UK. These two countries joined the EU in 2007. Because so many people had come from Poland and other Eastern European Countries in 2004, when Romania and Bulgaria joined, the UK government put 'transitional controls' in place which prevented citizens of Romania and Bulgaria from coming to the UK.

According to EU law, these controls can last for seven years. They are due to expire at the end of 2013. Migrationwatch estimate that 50,000 people will come from the two countries every year between 2014 and 2019. The UK government has estimated the number it expects to come but refuses to disclose what that number is.

Cameron wants to make UK less attractive for Romanians and Bulgarians

Mr Cameron told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show in December that he was not able to prevent Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to the UK but said that he would, instead, make the UK a less attractive immigration destination for those who wanted to abuse the system.

Political commentators though, say that the reason for Mr Cameron's new anti-immigrant stance may be more to do with politics. Mr Cameron has appointed Lynton Crosby as his new political advisor. Mr Crosby is an Australian who is credited with winning several elections for former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Crosby's tactics often involved focusing on issues like race and immigration. Mr Crosby's major campaigning strategy is 'the wedge'. The idea is to raise an issue which is likely to divide his opponent's supporters. UK polls have shown that many Labour voters in the UK are opposed to EU immigration so Mr Crosby could be seeking to attract Labour voters to the Conservatives by showing Labour to be 'weak' on immigration.

Mr Crosby started work for Mr Cameron's Conservative Party in January. Since then, Mr Cameron has made several speeches about preventing immigrants from claiming UK benefits. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has attacked the UK's judges for their failure to expel foreign criminals from the country and has said that the government will change the law to make it easier to deport criminals.

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