David Cameron 'to compromise' on welfare in EU reform talks


David Cameron is ready to row back on key demands for welfare reforms in his renegotiation of Britain's relationship with the European Union.

The Prime Minister will tell leaders migration is a "major concern" in the UK but will insist that achieving a solution is more important than the way it is done.

Officials will be told to find an option that meets British demands while also being "acceptable to all", according to Government sources.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo earlier this week said she did not "see eye-to-eye" with Mr Cameron on his calls for a ban on EU citizens from other countries claiming in-work benefits until they had been in the UK for four years and the proposals have won little support among other leaders.

Mr Cameron is heading to Brussels on Thursday where, over dinner, he is expected to emphasis that "levels of migration from the EU to the UK are a major concern for the British people" at the European Council summit but will signal he is open to other solutions.

A Government source said: "The Prime Minister is set to reiterate the point he made in his letter and speech last month - that what matters most is to fix the problems not the precise form of the arrangements.

"On welfare, he will aim to unlock the political will necessary to find a solution, effectively giving the green light to officials to work up a solution that would both deliver on the Prime Minister's objective of better controlling migration from the EU while also being acceptable to all."

Mr Cameron has previously conceded that no deal will be reached at the summit with the aim instead to seal a package of reforms in February.

Labour said the Prime Minister had undermined his renegotiations by failing to build alliances in the EU.

Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said: "The Prime Minister has been undone by his own failure to build alliances and goodwill through patient diplomacy.

"He chose to make benefits the centrepiece of his renegotiation, but it was never a good idea to reduce the whole future of our co-operation with Europe, and the jobs, investment, growth, security and influence it has brought us, to just this issue.

"He now needs to get on and make the broader case for remaining part of Europe as Labour has been doing".

Number 10 dismissed suggestions that the Prime Minister was ready to drop the calls for a four-year benefit ban.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "A number of Sunday papers have claimed the Prime Minister is backing away from the four year migrant benefit proposal.

"One even goes as far as to claim he will be using this week's European Council to drop it - this is simply not true.

"As the PM said in his Chatham House speech several weeks ago: 'I am open to different ways of dealing with this issue. But we do need to secure arrangements that deliver on the objective set out in the Conservative Party manifesto to control migration from the European Union'."