Britain is “under siege” from immigration, according to UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. The cause is EU migrants coming to the UK from other parts of the EU, competing for jobs and claiming benefits.

“In some areas of the UK, down the east coast, towns do feel under siege, (with) large numbers of migrant workers and people claiming benefits,” Fallon said in an interview.

“We are looking at changing that to make sure there is some control. We are fully entitled to say this is making a difference to us, that now needs to be dealt with.”

The immigration issue has risen to the fore of UK politics recently. British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, feeling mounting electoral pressure from the anti-EU UK Independence Party in the face of next year’s general election, has promised the UK public a referendum by 2017 on whether to maintain EU membership.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Cameron, however, not to “tamper with the fundamental principles of free movement in the EU.” Such interference would not be tolerated by Britain’s EU partners, Merkel said.

“The Germans haven’t seen our proposals yet and we haven’t seen our proposals yet, and that’s still being worked on at the moment to see what we can do to prevent whole towns and communities being swamped by huge numbers of migrants,” Fallon said.

Currently, under EU regulations, citizens of most EU countries are guaranteed the right to live and work in any EU country.

By Dan Jackson