THE BLOG
04/02/2016 11:46 GMT | Updated 03/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Cameron's Botched Attempt at EU Renegotiation Will Only Help the Leave Campaign

When David Cameron announced that he was going to renegotiate Britain's position within the European Union, I doubt anyone expected that he would be making such a big deal over whether migrants from the EU should be entitles to in-work benefits or not. Somehow an issue, that most people must never have even considered to be an issue, has come to dominate large parts of the negotiations. Britons don't want to leave the EU because of this. Their main objections to our membership of the union are related to immigration and the economy. Cameron will try to pretend that the in-work benefits restrictions will solve both these issues. He'll argue that it will deter migrants from coming here in the first place, and benefit the UK economically simply because the government is paying out less. In truth, the significance of migrants claiming in-work benefits is very, very limited. For a start, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) doesn't even know how many EU migrants currently claim benefits - nor is it sure of data it has on how long EU migrants who claim welfare support have been living in the UK. On top of this there is also no evidence to suggest these proposals will reduce migration into the country - in fact, the Office for Budget Responsibility has said that limiting migrant welfare payments won't have any impact on immigration at all.

Robert Oxley, from the 'Vote.Leave' campaign, described the issues now being discussed in relation to the renegotiation as "trivial". This is true - but it also plays into the hands of those who Britain out. People want restrictions and limits on immigration - and who can offer more - the out campaigns that can say: 'leave the EU and we can do what we want with our borders' or David Cameron who can only boast about coming out with a slight victory after asking for reform on a small issue which nobody really cares about and doesn't actually have any effect on immigration anyway? The Prime Minister will claim victory, but there are two problems with this. Firstly, he hasn't delivered on what he told the British public he would do. Secondly, the concessions he has asked the EU for are so insignificant that it doesn't matter if he was victorious in getting them or not.

Basically, Cameron is taking the British public for a ride. To be fair, he is stuck. Renegotiating Britain's position is not an easy task - European countries don't seem to have much of an appetite for it. But by pretending to have gained meaningful concessions from the EU, when he quite clearly has not, only helps those who want to leave the EU. I can see the vast majority of the British electorate looking at what he's done, seeing it for the sham it is, and turning against the negotiations and against remaining in the union.