As I blogged here, the Tory 'promise' of a cap on non-EU immigration is under threat. Eurogoblin rightly points out that the Free Trade Agreement with India requires unanimity in the Council - in effect we have a veto*. But it's clear that the Tories, not wanting to be isolated in Europe, are looking to drop their election promise, not exercise our veto and we are being softened up for the eventual announcement:
David Cameron has hinted that the coalition's controversial proposals for capping non-EU immigration may be watered down.Perpetually unable to keep his word, should Cameron's wife be getting worried?
Personally I don't agree with an arbitrary cap, but it has come about, ironically because we don't fully control our own borders. The key to a successful immigration policy is enough flexibility to respond to economic circumstances and also to voter concerns. Immigration was the number one issue at the last election.
So faced with relentless complaints by the electorate yet impotent to control immigration from the EU , successive governments have responded in the only way possible - ever more draconian measures on the only area we have control over - non-EU citizens in order to look like they were doing something. But not only is the cap hugely damaging to British business it creates the wholly unfair situation where Commonwealth countries who have regularly provided soldiers to protect our nation have far fewer rights to enter our country, than, say, those from Estonia.
However what Cameron may found out soon enough, while he's showing contempt for voters, is that a weak economy combined with job losses, public sector cuts and uncontrolled immigration makes for a very toxic mix.
A post by Douglas Carswell on how another referendum promise will broken:
Now there could well be a new EU treaty, without any referendum - despite what we were promised.
Prepare for the government spin, which will likely say:
1. This new agreement involving France and Germany etc is not really a new treaty.Indeed Cameron will follow in Labour's footsteps in wriggling out of a commitment on a technicality (i.e. the rejected Constitution abolished previous EU treaties, but Lisbon reformed them; same outcome but different treaty etc).
2. It doesn't involve giving the EU new powers in new areas. Just transfers in existing areas. And when we promised a referendum on any further transfer of new powers, we meant in new transfers of power within new areas. Obviously.
3. Besides, this is not a significant transfer of power. We were careful to say there'd be a referendum only when there were significant transfers. And we don't think this is significant. So there.
4. This new thingy, which isn't really a treaty, doesn't involve us, as we're not in the Euro. Despite what the small print might say.
5. Anyhow, look how tough we've been, getting Europe to mug us for a little less with a slightly reduced budget increase!
By Friday, there's a fair chance you'll have been fed variants of all five of the above....
It's like an election has never happened.
*Update: EuroGoblin is partly right. FTAs can be 'mixed' agreements (include political stuff) and therefore it would require unanimity by member states - in effect creating a veto. This is what happened with South Korea and Columbia. However the EU in general has exclusive competence on FTAs under Lisbon article 188c (formally 133) so any agreement would be subjected to QMV which means no veto for the UK, therefore Cameron could do little about it.
Eurogoblin in the comments confirms that India is a mixed agreement, therefore Cameron has a veto.