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UNITED KINGDOM: Prime Minister Pulls Back on Proposed Immigration Restrictions

Prime Minister David Cameron has scrapped his proposal to institute an "emergency brake" on immigration from the EU to the United Kingdom (UK). In January, it was reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her willingness to discuss curbing EU migrant access to benefits with the Prime Minister, but warned that Germany was prepared to see the UK exit the EU rather than allow the UK to circumvent free movement.

Mr. Cameron's inability to sway the EU to his position, as well as Conservatives' concerns about debating immigration in the lead-up to the general election, have resulted in an odd calm for the moment. Most recently, and notably, the Prime Minister failed to include immigration in his six themes for the Tory manifesto despite a significant number of polls from a variety of sources showing it as one of the top issues across many demographics.

In a recent YouGov survey, when Britons were asked to list the most important issues facing the country, 52% of those surveyed cited immigration. However, when those same individuals were asked to state the most important issues they and their families faced, immigration dropped to fourth place at 20%. A January 2014 Ipsos MORI report cited a similar survey, which showed that a far greater percentage of Britons (around 70%) viewed immigration as a national issue, but only about 20% viewed immigration as an issue where they lived.

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