Tory MP Stewart Jackson, who was assaulted at the weekend by an eastern european migrant in Peterborough, has suggested the incident shows that Britain needs to renegotiate the terms of EU directives which allow unrestricted freedom of movement from member countries.
Speaking to The Huffington Post Jackson said he had no regrets about trying to stop a man from vandalising a bus shelter in the city on Saturday. The MP attempted to carry out a citizen's arrest on his assailant and was kicked in the side of his chest during the altercation.
"I don't regret it, ultimately you can't just walk by and watch somebody destroying public property, not just my constituency but my home as well. Not only did he smash a bottle into a bus shelter, he kicked the glass through, onto pensioners and shoppers," said Jackson.
Jackson has become an increasingly vocal backbench critic of the government, after he was sacked as a ministerial aide last year over an EU referendum motion. He told HuffPost that while his actions shouldn't be taken as a "green light to vigilantism", his actions were appropriate".
"There weren't any police officers around and he would have calmly walked off, had nobody confronted him," he says. "I was with my wife and daughter and I thought it was incredibly outrageous anti-social behaviour. You need good people to stand up to that and say it's intolerable."
Jackson says that incidents like the man's behaviour are not uncommon in Peterborough. "There is the bigger issue that there is too much imbibing of alcohol to the extreme in the city.
"While it's not exclusively eastern Europeans, there are a large number of eastern European people who like to get drunk. There is a small minority of people who don't care about other people going about their business. That's probably an issue for towns and cities across the country, in fairness."
Jackson told HuffPost that the incident made him even more supportive of calls by Tories for the UK to secure an opt-out from EU freedom of movement directives. The government says it's looking at ways to restrict those who have no job or independent means from settling in Britain but is shy on the details.
"The free movement directive connects to this, because we've had 20,000 people come to the city from eastern European countries, 34% of primary school children in Peterborough didn't have English as a first language last year," says Jackson.
"That's fine and dandy if you're getting the funding to deal with that issue, but if you're not, it has an impact on our GCSE stats. We've never had the proper funding to deal with that, but we're at the centre of the food processing and logistics industries in Peterborough, generally low or intermediate skill work"
Britain continues to operate a work-permit scheme for Romania and Bulgaria, which restricts people from the two countries from settling in Britain without getting a job first. But movement among the eastern European countries which joined the EU in the early 2000s is unrestricted.
The coalition government has also tightened visa requirements for non-EU citizens but is largely powerless to restrict movements from most EU nations because of European directives. Although the number of migrants from these countries has fallen in the recession, predictions of a mass-exodus of eastern Europeans leaving the UK for want of jobs have proved unfounded. The coalition's target of reducing net migration to the "tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands" is significantly off-track.
Some EU member states are butting heads with Brussels over alleged contraventions of EU directives. France has deported thousands of Romani travellers and only last week Spain risked the ire of the EU by demanding that anyone living in the country for more than three months must provide proof of independent means or income.
Although Britain has clauses at its disposal which potentially impose similar sanctions on EU migrants, Labour claim that the coalition almost never uses them. Home secretary Theresa May indicated in May of this year that she may use these clauses if the Eurozone crisis triggered a wave of mass immigration to the UK, but Tory MPs including James Clappison have urged David Cameron act now, and Stewart Jackson told us he was fully supportive of those calls.
"It seems to be bizarre that we're turning away people from India and Singapore with degrees in IT which could grow a business, at the same time we completely fail to restrict access to European migrants with few or no skills. That's the crazy immigration system that we've got," he said.
"Not all eastern Europeans are violent, by any means. And some Polish children who come to school in Peterborough do very well in English and maths, some of the best results in the country," Jackson told us. "But we are struggling to some extent with uncontrolled immigration from eastern European countries."