EU referendum: EU reform won't stop migrants coming to the UK, says former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso

James Nickerson
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Barroso said the EU would be weaker if the UK leaves (Source: Getty)

Migrants bound for the United Kingdom will not be put off by restricting benefits, former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has said.

Plans for an "emergency break" on in-work benefits for migrants are a creative compromise, but will not help reduce migration, he told BBC Newsnight.

Barroso's comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron said his draft reform package would lead to a fundamental change in the UK's relationship with the EU.

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European leaders will debate Cameron's reform proposals on 18 February. The Prime Minister needs unanimous backing to bring about the reform, including his plans to restrict benefits for migrants.

If each of the 28 members agrees to the proposals, the referendum could be held as early as June.

However, when Barroso was pressed on whether the new proposals would deter would-be migrants from coming to the UK, he said: "No, frankly not."

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Instead, people will look at labour market conditions. "People who want to go to Britain, if the basic rights of the people are ensured, they will be willing to go but of course with slightly different conditions," he said.

Barosso also said that the EU would be "weaker" if the UK voted for Brexit, adding "everyone wants Britain to remain".

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