London Mayor Boris Johnson backs British PM on EU migration curbs

28th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

London Mayor Boris Johnson on Friday voiced support for Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to slash migration from the European Union, but said "talented people" should not be kept out of Britain.

In a major immigration policy speech to be delivered later Friday, Cameron is expected to announce plans to ban EU migrants from claiming benefits for their first four years in order to curb overall migration.

An advance copy of the speech showed Cameron is also expected to say that EU migrants should have a job offer before moving to Britain and that unemployed migrants should not be allowed to stay.

"I think that it's only reasonable," Johnson told reporters in Singapore. He was in the city-state as the main guest in a technology event, a collaboration between Singapore and London to develop financial technology apps.

"I'll have to see what David Cameron says but I think he's entirely right to want to put in place measures that stop too much of a pull factor, too much of a suction effect that brings people to the country, that might just want to make use of the benefits," he said.

"On the other hand, you've got to make sure that you don't keep out people who can be of value to our economy," he added.

"London has done very well from being able to bring in talented people so there's a balance to be struck but I'm confident the prime minister will get it right."

Cameron has been under pressure to curb immigration from the anti-EU UK Independence Party ahead of the May 2015 election.

Net migration to Britain rose by more than 40 percent in the year to June, official data released Thursday showed.

Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party of which Johnson is also a member, has previously promised to re-negotiate Britain's membership of the bloc and hold an in-out referendum in 2017.

Johnson said the Conservatives remains "positive about immigration".

"I think it's very important to stress that immigration has brought great things for our country and indeed the cross fertilisation of ideas and people around the world has been massively beneficial," he said.

Johnson, 50, is expected to be elected to the House of Commons at next May's election, and is seen by some quarters as a future Conservative leader if Cameron is forced to step down in the event the party loses.

When asked by reporters in Singapore if he was running for prime minister, Johnson retorted: "I'm going to be mayor of London for at least for another 18 months or so."

© 2014 AFP

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