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Stewart Jackson, Tory MP, Says 'Barking Mad' EU Immigration Must Be Stopped

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Stewart Jackson will challenge the government over EU immigration
Stewart Jackson will challenge the government over EU immigration

The government should ditch its "barking mad" immigration proposals and cut back on migrants from Eastern Europe, Tory MP Stewart Jackson has said.

Jackson, a critic of the coalition, will introduce a Bill calling for curbs on immigration on Wednesday, as Tory MPs and Labour unite against David Cameron to demand a cut in the EU's Budget.

"There are two extremes," Jackson told The Huffington Post UK.

"One is to say we have no controls at all and accept we are subject to massive immigration flows. If that happens there is no chance of making substantial process of welfare reforms."

He added: "The other extreme is we leave the EU and say 'that's it we've had enough'."

Jackson's Bill would force the government to vary the conditions attached to the 2004 Free Movement Directive, which has allowed millions of EU citizens to live and work in the UK.

It is unlikely to become law as it does not have the backing of the government, however as Britain is not likely to leave the EU any time soon - Jackson sees it as a way to press for intermediate measures.

Free movement of EU workers is one of the union's founding principles. Any attempt to amend it would face stiff opposition from Brussels and has proved a huge headache for the Conservatives after the party pledged to cut immigration from more than 200,000 to "tens of thousands".

However Jackson insisted: "There is much more wiggle room than people think, we don't take the opportunity of wiggling."

Asked whether he thought the home secretary had fired the starting gun on the debate by indicating she was prepared to consider curbs on EU immigration, Jackson said: "I'm not entirely sure what makes Theresa May tick".

"I was pleased that she did acknowledge that it's an issue. The big issue is that we are in the process of developing an immigration system that is barking mad."

SEE ALSO: Labour And Tory MPs Unite Against David Cameron Over Europe

Jackson told HuffPost UK that banning the "best brains" in Asia from studying or working in the UK while accepting unskilled workers from Europe who would simply come to "pick asparagus in Lincolnshire" was a mistake.

He added: "I'm saying we've got to have immigration control, we must have quality control."

The Peterborough MP said mass immigration from Eastern Europe had piled pressure on local services such as social housing and healthcare in his constituency. He said: "34% primary school children in Peterborough don't have English as their first language."

And he said if the UK accepted more immigrants from Eastern Europe there was "no chance" of cutting back on welfare payments.

His Bill, which is unlikely to become law, will push for measures to enable ministers to vary the 2004 Directive to ensure that EU migrants who come to the UK have a job arranged, have no recourse to public funds for 18 months, have no criminal records and are in good health.

The timing of the Bill is awkward for David Cameron as it comes on the same day as Tory MPs will be given a chance to vote in favour of blocking any real-terms increase in the EU's Budget.

On Monday the Labour Party outflanked the prime minister on the issue by also demanding Brussels' wings be clipped.