Would new EU migrant rules be good or bad for UK?

Hello from the top of a Swiss mountain, Davos, the eccentric and legendary home of the World Economic Forum.

This is where the global elite - from world leaders to business titans to the likes of Spacey and DiCaprio - huddle each year, to keep themselves warm, while much of the world moan that they are being let down (or worse) by this elite.

Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio addressed world leaders and economists in Davos after receiving an award for his work to combat climate change. Credit: Reuters

A global economy still not recovered from the 2008 calamity and slowing down again, flatlining or declining living standards for many, a continued widening in the yawning gap between rich and poor, fear that robots are taking our jobs, the furnace of the Middle East, growing pervasive fear of terrorism - all are motivating millions of people across the world to reject mainstream politicians, to pillory big business, to reject the liberal, global political and economic consensus of the past 30 years.

And if I ever doubted that we are living through a period of unpredictable political and social turmoil, Kevin Spacey put me right last night - when he told me that in a poll asking Egyptians who they would like to run their country, top of the list was Frank Underwood, the murdering Machiavellian prince he plays in House of Cards.

I'm here because it is the best place on earth to pick up stories, test the confidence of those who still have a huge influence on our lives, assess whether anyone has compelling answers to the clear and present challenges to our way of life.

Could a new system to distribute refugees be brokered in the UK's deal for EU reform? Credit: Reuters

What's up for the boss class this morning? Well there's a fair bit of confusion and anxiety about the leaks out of Brussels that the EU is poised to ditch the so-called Dublin regulation - that when refugees arrive in the EU, it is the first country in which they set foot that has responsibility for taking them.

Europhile Brits - and they are pretty much the only Brits who bowl up here - are not sure whether this attempt to impose a more equitable and rational distribution of migrants throughout Europe is good or bad for their case that the UK should stay in the EU.

On the one hand it kills a simple argument that they use when eurosceptics argue that EU membership makes us more vulnerable to uncontrolled immigration of asylum seekers - namely that the Dublin rule provides strong protection (in that if a Syrian for example turns up in the UK having travelled from Greece, we can send them back to Greece).

While David Cameron is set for a series of key talks with his European counterparts in Davos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled her usual appearance at the forum. Credit: Reuters

On the other hand, the rest of the EU does not have the power to force any new migrant-distribution arrangement on Britain.

In the area of migration and asylum, the UK and Ireland can "opt in" to a new system, but cannot be compelled to do so.

Now it is possible that Germany, France and the rest might try to persuade David Cameron to participate in the new migrant deal, in return for granting him the new EU settlement he desperately needs if he is to sell continued membership of the EU to British voters.

Which could complicate life for the Prime Minister.

And even if Cameron and the UK does not agree to take more refugees, were more of them to settle in France and Spain and Belgium, some would turn up in Britain sooner or later (and for better or worse, depending on your point of view).