Poland's vow to veto immigration plans spells bad news for David Cameron

Martin Geissler

Former ITV News Correspondent

Economist and Poland's former deputy prime minister Jacek Rostowski said Poland will veto the proposals Credit: ITV News

Jacek Rostowski is an interesting chap.

Born to an exiled Polish family in England, he's lived a varied life. An economist and politician, he's been a member of the both the British Conservative party and the Polish government.

Today, those two interests collided.

Mr Rostowski is a senior government figure here in Warsaw. By a quirk of Polish politics, his constituents include around 800,000 of his countrymen and women currently resident in the UK.

Unsurprisingly, he sees any attack on them as a matter of great concern. David Cameron's plans to cut their benefit entitlements and tax credits are discriminatory, he told me.

His government has the power to veto the proposals, and it will.

Like any European treaty amendment, some of Mr Cameron's plans would likely require unanimous backing in Brussels, if one country blocks them, the deal would be off.

So, Mr Rostowski's comments could be very bad news for the PM.

Those sentiments have cross-party support here in Poland, too. Robert Biedron, who leads an opposition party in the Parliament, agrees with the government on this.

"It's a cheap, populist trick", he told me shortly after Mr Cameron's speech, "politics should be dictated by politicians, not newspapers, your Prime Minister has just caved in to pressure from the tabloid press. It's ridiculous".

Polish national Martin Duda will move to Wakefield, West Yorkshire, next week to begin work in a warehouse Credit: ITV News

Outside the parliament, people seemed far less concerned. Martin Duda has some packing to do. A shy, quiet 24-year-old, he's moving to England next week. He can't find a full time job here but a quick search on the internet turned up ten weeks work in a warehouse in Wakefield. "It's my first foot on the ladder", he told me, "hopefully I'll build a new life in England, maybe I'll never come home".

He's heard about benefits in Britain, but they don't interest him. "I wouldn't be moving if I thought I'd end up sitting around on a couple of hundred pounds per week", I want to earn much more than that", he said.

Mr Cameron's plans haven't exactly struck fear into Eastern Europe, they've been met with mild irritation at best. Most here seem to think they'll make little difference - if they ever happen at all.