Tougher to tackle Brussels than claimants

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Does the Prime Minister know something we don’t?

Amid great fanfare the other day, he promised a crackdown on benefits for European Union workers arriving on our shores.

This, of course, is music to the ears of British homegrown workers who’ve been complaining that EU arrivals have been snapping up all the jobs. Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, and even Nick Clegg, deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, have since jumped on the bandwagon (and I don’t blame them) with their versions of how to defend the British worker against such an “invasion”.

This is obviously a key general election campaigning point, and none of the main parties wants to be left out of it.

But have they actually got the power and authority to deliver? That’s a very moot point indeed.

Part of the whole essence of the European Union is dreary uniformity throughout its member states. And as Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader (though I admit he has an axe to grind) has pointed out, under EU rules, all citizens must be treated equally. So, he argues, if there are restrictions imposed on EU immigrants, they also have to be imposed on British-born and bred workers.

My fear is that any attempt to protect British workers in this way will be met with obdurate opposition from the grim-faced bureaucrats in Brussels. We all know that any attempt to reform the EU is about as effective as banging your head against a concrete wall.

We shall see, though. For a while, there will be a lull as MPs take their buckets and spades to the seaside, but hostilities will resume in earnest once the summer is over.

And it will be a dirty business, mark my word.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader has every right to criticise the Government’s response to the Israel-Hamas crisis, saying it is inexplicable that the Government has remained silent over the suffering of Palestine civilians.

A spokesman for Downing Street rejects the allegation, adding that ministers are “shocked” Miliband should play politics with such a serious issue.

That, frankly, is a wholly unworthy accusation. Miliband is a politician and he is not playing at it. The Government should get it it into its head that Miliband has an opinion and that it is right for him to express it. If anything, it is the Government playing at politics here.