LONDON (Reuters) - David Cameron’s plans to curb welfare payments to EU migrants have been “recklessly disregarded” by other leaders in the bloc, an ally of the British prime minister said in an article published on Monday.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, tipped as a successor to Cameron, said EU leaders had to set out other ways for Britain to regain control of its borders after the leader met opposition to a proposal to curb numbers of EU migrants by making workers wait four years before getting access to some welfare benefits.
Officials and diplomats say the proposal would discriminate between EU citizens on national grounds, jarring with basic EU treaty law — a blow to Cameron’s push to renegotiate Britain’s EU ties before a membership referendum by the end of 2017.
Johnson wrote in the Telegraph newspaper: “These people are radically and dangerously misreading the Prime Minister if they think he wants to stay in the EU at any price. The David Cameron I know is much more Euroskeptic than some of his senior colleagues.”
Cameron has said he wants to stay in a reformed EU but rules nothing out if he cannot get the changes he is seeking.
Johnson said that if Denmark, another EU member, could require foreign nationals to live in the country for at least five years before being allowed to buy a property, Britain should also be allowed to make similar exemptions.
“The PM’s suggestion was modest, and sensible. It has been recklessly disregarded. This country could have a viable and exciting future outside the present EU arrangements. If we are going to stay, we need reform; and if the Danes can have their special circumstances recognized, so can Britain,” he said.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, editing by Elizabeth Piper