POLITICS

France's Front National Praises David Cameron For 'Smashing Taboo' On Immigration

27/03/2013 09:16 | Updated 27 March 2013

The French far right has praised David Cameron for "smashing the taboo" over immigration, in dubious applause for the prime minister, who has been keen to stress he is not "lurching to the right."

France’s Front National congratulated Cameron after Monday's speech on immigration, in which announced arrivals from the European Union will be stripped of jobseekers benefits after six months unless they can prove they have been actively looking for a job and stand a "genuine chance" of finding one.

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Cameron giving his speech in Ipswich on Monday

FN vice-president Louis Aliot said in a statement, translated by English news site France 24: "The Front National hails the speech by the British prime minister which has smashed the taboo surrounding the unsustainable cost of immigration for European nations.

"At a time of mounting unemployment and widening deficits, it has become urgent to start giving priority to our own nationals in jobs, housing, social benefits and health."

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Marine Le Pen, leader of the Front National, campaigns against the perceived threat against the secular value system of the French Republic from immigrants and particularly Muslims. In 2011, she criticised Muslims, for what she sees as their intents to impose their own values on the country and following the Arab Spring, she has been active in campaigning on halting the migration to Europe of Tunisian and Libyan immigrants.

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Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far right party Front National

Cameron's own speech was accused of peddling "myths" about the number of immigrants who claim benefits in Britain, and claiming falsely that the UK was a "soft touch".

The PM said the NHS was a “free National Health Service, not a free International Health Service”, claims that were rebuffed by a number of expats and mocked widely on Twitter.

He was accused of offering empty anti-immigration rhetoric amid fears that Ukip poses a significant electoral threat in 2015.

His speech follows similar interventions on immigration by Labour leader Ed Miliband and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Sarah Mulley from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank said that the UK was "not a soft touch" and that EU migrants are half as likely to claim out of work benefits as British nationals are.

"Migrants in general and European migrants pay more in to the system than they take out, that's largely because they are young people who are working," she told HuffPost UK.

Mulley said that while in theory the British welfare system and NHS was more open to EU migrants than other European systems were, this did not mean it was happening in practise. "The fact is it doesn't happen, at least not in any significant scale," she explained.

Gillian Guy, chief executive at national charity Citizens Advice, said while it was important that the welfare system is fair, politicians "must be careful not to encourage myths or misconceptions about who benefits most from the welfare system".

"EU migrants are more likely to be in work and less likely to claim benefits than British residents. Overall, they are net contributors to the economy, putting in much more than they take out. These plain facts must not be obscured by political rhetoric," she said.

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