"As we head towards the general election, the desperation of the Tories to appear to be ‘tough ‘on immigration is becoming more and more self-evident. The defence secretary thinks we’re being ‘swamped’ by immigrants, the Prime Minister holds a get tough news conference on the subject then doesn’t list immigration as one of his election priorities and now the foreign secretary thinks they’re all ‘freeloaders’!
“Both of these terms do not enhance the debate on how to develop a fair and ethical migration policy for the UK. Most immigrants coming to Britain want to work and play a decent part in our society. The critical issue is, we must control the numbers of people who want to come here legally and prevent, catch and deport those who get here illegally.
“As long as we are members of the European Union and signed up to its free movement of people treaty obligations this is impossible for any elected UK government to do. No amount of intemperate migration language from Conservative and Labour party politicians will change this. Only a ‘No’ vote in an in/out referendum will. The Tories are now seen as simply trying to freeload on UKIP's lead in the polls on this issue which will cost them dearly in May.”
Notes to editors:
Guardian article: "Britain wide open to EU free movement and ‘freeloading’ - Philip Hammond"