David Cameron’s chances of winning significant EU reforms suffered a blow tonight after the new Brussels chief Jean-Claude Juncker rejected limits on immigration.
The nominee to be the next European Commission president met MEPs from Nigel Farage’s euroskeptic group in the European Parliament ahead of his coronation next week.
Mr Juncker was asked directly if he would support any restrictions on free movement of workers within the EU. According to UKIP MEPs at the meeting, he replied: “No.”
William Dartmouth, a Ukip MEP for the South West of England, asked whether Mr Juncker agreed that free movement of people was a founding EU principle and “non-negotiable.”
He had barely finished asking the question, when Mr Juncker – who earlier joking asked chain-smoking Mr Farage if he could have one of his cigarettes – interjected to say “yes.”
Mr Farage said afterwards that the exchange would hasten Britain’s exit from Europe.
Mr Juncker also raised the prospect of “harmonizing” tax rates – which would be fiercely resisted in Westminster…