German Chancellor Angela Merkel is prepared to consider Britain’s exit from the European Union if it goes ahead with plans to restrict freedom of movement, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
Merkel is worried Prime Minister David Cameron is leading Britain to the “point of no return” over immigration, the report said, citing the German magazine Der Spiegel.
Merkel is said to have made clear to him that any attempt to restrict immigration from fellow member states will result in Germany withdrawing support for efforts to keep Britain in the union.
Germany now regards a British exit as a possibility, the report said.
Cameron, under pressure from right-wing Conservatives and the anti-European UK Independence party, has promised Britons that he will bring forward measures to curb immigration from within Europe.
He is expected announce details of his immigration policy in a speech before Christmas.
David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said that while the debate still had two years to run, Cameron should set out his position definitively.
“If you’re going to get the Europeans to take you seriously, you’ve got to hold out the prospect of recommending leaving,” he told the BBC on Monday.
Davis said Merkel’s comments were no surprise. “These blood-curdling comments from leaders in Europe were to be expected. They’re often being driven by domestic considerations.”
However, it emerged over the weekend that Cameron might change his initial plans to impose quotas on low-skilled EU migrants to appease Merkel.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that Downing Street was focusing instead on stretching existing commission rules “to their limits” by deporting migrants from member states unless they are able to support themselves within three months of arrival.
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