Paul Stephenson, spokesperson for the campaign group Vote Leave, said that plans aimed at introducing an emergency break, which will prevent EU nationals from claiming in-work benefits for their first four years in Britain, are merely "smoke and mirrors" and won't have an impact in reducing immigration from within the EU.
Let's face it David Cameron the only tent cities Britain has to worry about is from the homeless not refugees swimming here b/c of #Brexit— Harry Leslie Smith (@Harryslaststand) February 8, 2016
He told Sputnik that Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have asked for "relatively minor" changes to the UK's agreement and have then "manufactured" a row with Brussels to make it look like they have struck a good deal for Britain.
"They haven't attempted to address some of the fundamental problems that people have with our membership of the EU. What people want is to be able to take back control of their borders. What they've tried to do is put in fairly small-scale limitations on some of the benefits that can be claimed, which aren't going to have an impact."
Mr Stephenson said the UK's benefits system was only a small part of the pull factor for EU nationals looking to move to the UK, saying that restricting some benefits "will not make much difference."
Critics: Changes May Encourage More Immigration
The comments come amid an increase in Euroskeptic attacks against the proposals negotiated between David Cameron and European Council President Donald Tusk.
David Davis, one of Cameron's own MPs, said the emergency brake plans could actually have the reverse effect and lead to increased migration to the UK in the short term, as people look to move to Britain before any changes are implemented.
Mr Stephenson agreed, arguing that the nature of the proposals — which would see EU nationals receive in-work benefits at differing rates after living in the UK for a number of years — could "ironically create a pull factor for people to stay."
"If people start to get benefits after a couple of years, and it goes up every year, it's almost like a pay rise each year for staying in the UK," he said.
Legal Concerns Loom Large
Despite confidence in some quarters that the plans will be agreed upon politically, there are also concerns over the legality of any moves to implement an emergency brake on benefits, as it is not included in any EU treaties.
"What essentially David Cameron will be offering the British people is the equivalent of an unsigned contract to say 'the check's in the post and we'll hopefully get these changes in a few years time,' " Stephenson told Sputnik.
He believes that EU nationals may be able to take the UK to the European Court of Justice, and win, if they are prevented from accessing in-work benefits in Britain.
"We think these changes will be pretty meaningless. Even if they do get into law, we don't thin they'll be legal.
"It's not a well thought-out policy. It will be a total nightmare to administer."