The outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has told British Prime Minister David Cameron he risks making an “historic mistake” if he pursues an anti-immigration agenda designed to please domestic voters.
The Times newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said Cameron wanted to cap the number of low-skilled migrants from within the EU who could register to work in the UK.
Barroso said while there was great willingness among other EU states to accommodate Britain’s concerns, there were clearly red lines that could not be crossed. He said he did not see how an arbitrary cap on immigration could be accepted.
“It would be a historic mistake if on these issues Britain were to continue to alienate its natural allies in central and eastern Europe when you were one of the strongest advocates for their accession,” said Barroso.
The eurosceptic UK Independence Party (Ukip), which wants to end what they call “open door” immigration, won its first seat in parliament this month.
Cameron’s Conservative Party suffered two high-profile defections to Ukip in recent months.
Cameron, under pressure from Ukip, and from eurosceptic MPs from within his own party, has pledged to hold a referendum on Britain’s EU membership if he wins a 2015 election.