Theresa May camp hits back at ‘lily-livered’ immigration claims

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A new book claimed the then home secretary failed to support plans to curb EU immigrants coming into Britain.It claims Mrs May urged Mr Cameron not to demand an “emergency brake” in 2014 for fear of upsetting other EU leaders.But supporters of the prime minister say she wrote to Mr Cameron twice to make the case for such a measure.

Iain Watson, BBC political correspondent, said sources close to Mrs May had now taken the “unusual step” of releasing details of private correspondence between her and Mr Cameron.Our correspondent said those close to Mrs May had calculated it is “politically important to rebut the suggestion that she took a softer line on immigration”

According to the book – All Out War, by Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman – Mr Cameron had wanted to push for a so-called emergency brake as part of his EU renegotiation.Such a measure could have convinced voters he would be able to reduce immigration if Britain remained in the EU, it argued.

However, the book claims the former prime minister was persuaded against doing so by Mrs May and then foreign secretary Philip Hammond, now the chancellor. Mrs May feared demanding such a measure would upset German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it says.Mr Shipman quoted an aide to Mr Cameron as saying: “Hammond spoke first and argued we just couldn’t do something that would receive an immediate raspberry in Europe.”Theresa said very, very little, and simply said that we just couldn’t go against Merkel.”

The book said a “visibly deflated” Mr Cameron was said to have turned to one official and said: “I can’t do it without their support. If it wasn’t for my lily-livered cabinet colleagues….”

The full story can be read here.

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