Cameron 'makes views on child benefits clear' with Polish PM

David Cameron has "made clear his long-standing view" on making changes to child benefit being paid to families abroad in a phone call with his Polish counterpart. Donald Tusk had accused him of 'singling out' Poles for criticism.

Downing Street dismisses call for Tesco boycott

Downing Street has dismissed calls for a boycott of British retailer Tesco after David Cameron said he wanted to stop Polish migrants sending home child benefits.

Read: UK pays child benefit to 25,659 children in Poland

Jan Bury, leader of Poland's junior coalition party said Cameron's policies were "unfriendly and scandalous" towards Poles.

"As Poles, we can also say 'no' to prime minister Cameron and his policies. We call on Poles to boycott British retailer Tesco."

Mr Cameron's official spokesman dismissed the calls as electioneering. He said:

"I have seen reports about that sort of thing. There are elections going on in Poland at the moment."

More: PM 'not conducting debate in manner Poles approve of'

PM 'not conducting debate in manner Poles approve of'

by - Political Editor

The temperature rather ratcheted up earlier today when the Polish prime minister in a press conference said that he was speaking to Mr Cameron at the Prime Minister's request and he expected it to be a rather unpleasant conversation because he was very angry.

As you'd expect, the read out afterwards is a little bit more temperate than that - I don't think either side wants a full-blown diplomatic incident on this issue.

Read: Polish PM says governments 'cannot stigmatise any national group'

That said, I don't think there's any doubt that the Polish prime minister is pretty angry - he feels that his countrymen come here, they work hard, they pay taxes and he thinks it is very, very unfair to stigmatise them.

Read: Cameron 'makes views clear' with Polish PM

Of course, this is a complex issue. He feels that Mr Cameron is saying what he is saying entirely for domestic political consumption, and the reality of this situation is that the freedom of movement of people to work is an absolute founding principle of modern Europe.

The question of benefits is a different one, and I think that even the Polish think that is a fair subject of debate, but there's no doubt tonight that Mr Cameron is not conducting the debate in a manner that they approve of.

Read: Cameron 'makes views on child benefits clear' with Polish PM

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Polish PM: Govts 'cannot stigmatise any national group'

The Polish prime minister has told David Cameron that governments "cannot stigmatise any national group and must respect European law".

Donald Tusk's office described a phone conversation between the pair this afternoon as "an open and frank exchange of views".

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Credit: Olivia Harris/PA Wire

It said Mr Cameron explained he had not intended to stigmatise Polish people who work in the UK when he made comments about child benefits payments to migrants.

But Mr Tusk was said to have told the Prime Minister that Poland could not accept such statements, regardless of their original intentions.

Read: Cameron 'makes views on child benefits clear' with Polish PM

Cameron 'makes views clear' with Polish PM

David Cameron and the Polish prime minister have agreed to hold further discussions on the impact of EU free movement on child benefit payments.

The Prime Minister called Donald Tusk this afternoon "to discuss co-operation on a range of bilateral and EU issues", Downing Street said:

The Prime Minister made clear his long-standing view, reiterated in recent days, that the lack of transitional controls for new EU member states in 2004 was the wrong approach and had put pressure on local communities; and that we need to address the impact on countries’ benefits systems, including for example paying child benefit to families living abroad.

– Downing Street statement

How PM's comments are being covered in Polish press

This is how the Prime Minister's comments on restricting child benefits for Polish migrants in the UK is playing out in the Polish press:

  • The mass-circulation Gazeta Wyborcza says that Cameron's comments have caused an "uproar" and that any savings made by denying Polish migrants child benefits would be "negligible"
  • The Warsaw Voice reports that Poland's main opposition party, Law and Justice, could pull out of a coalition of euroskeptic members of the European Parliament - which includes Tories - in protest at David Cameron's comments.
  • An opinion piece in the Warsaw Business Journal says that Cameron is seeking to weaken one of Europe's founding principles - the free movement of people.

What the Prime Minister said to outrage Polish PM

The Prime Minister has caused a political storm in Poland by saying it is "wrong" for migrants working in the UK to claim benefits for children living in their home country.

In an interview with the BBC on Sunday, he said:

It's a situation that I inherited. I think you can change it, I think it will take time because we either have to change it by getting agreement with other European countries, and there are European countries who, like me, think it's wrong that someone from Poland who comes here and works hard - and I'm absolutely all in favour of that - but I don't think we should be paying child benefit to their family back at home.

– prime minister david cameron

More: Polish PM's anger over Cameron's benefits comments

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David Cameron to discuss immigration with Polish PM

David Cameron faces an awkward confrontation with his Polish counterpart today after complaining about immigrants from the country abusing the benefits system.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L) and Prime Minister David Cameron
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L) and Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: Wiktor Dabkowski/DPA/Press Association Images

Donald Tusk is expected to ask the Prime Minister to explain his comments after he hit out at British-based migrants claiming benefits for children living in their home country.

Mr Tusk told a press conference yesterday: "Nobody has the right to single out Poles as a particular group that abuses or exploits something."

He has also reportedly warned that Poland will block any change to EU rules that could give immigrants less access to welfare than UK nationals.

Read: Polish PM's anger over Cameron's benefits comments

UK pays child benefit to 25,659 children in Poland

The Polish prime minister has criticised David Cameron for singling out Poland in his vow to ban British child benefit payments to children of EU migrants.

According to Treasury figures, over half the children in EU nations who receive child benefit are in Poland.

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According to Treasury figures - the UK pays child benefit to 40,000 children living in another EU member state.

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More child benefit figures: govt pays it to 13m children of which 40,171 live in EU (Poland 25,659, RoI 2,609, France 2,003, Slovakia 1,881)

Read more: Polish PM attacks Cameron in EU child benefit row

Farage: 'We have to look beyond unemployment benefits'

Nigel Farage has told ITV News there is a wider issue of benefits for EU workers in Britain that must be addressed.

The Ukip leader was responding to the Polish prime minister who criticised David Cameron for singling out his country over the issue of child benefit payments to children of EU migrants.

Mr Farage said that in-work benefits such as child benefit need to be taken in to account not just unemployment benefits.

He said: "Everybody weighs up the work the Poles do, the tax they pay against those that are claiming unemployment benefits. The hidden part of this debate in in-work benefits."

Read more: Half of child benefits to children in the EU are in Poland

Polish PM: 'We will veto any welfare changes'

Poland's prime minister Donald Tusk said Poland would fight the UK any changes to EU rules aimed at reducing welfare payments for any particular nationality rather than applying equally to citizens of all EU member states:

We will not agree to it if these are changes that would stigmatise any particular national minority.

Nobody has the right to single out Poles as a particular group that abuses or exploits something.

David Cameron had said he wanted new EU rules to limit access for migrants to their host countries' welfare payments, and pointed to Poles as an example of the potential for the rules to be abused.

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