David Cameron urged EU leaders yesterday to show “flexibility” to help reduce migration numbers to the UK which were "undermining support for the European Union” in the country.

The prime minister said "good progress" had been made on new terms for the UK's membership of the bloc but it would be "hard work" to get a deal by his self-imposed February deadline.

The prime minister made the plea at at a dinner at the European Council summit in Brussels, which include curbing access to benefits for migrants to the UK for four years - a major sticking point for other EU leaders.

A poll by ComRes for Open Europe from 11-13 December showed that, at present, 56 per cent would vote to remain in the EU compared to 35 per cent who would vote to leave.

The government this week have responded to a Freedom of Information request by refusing to release data on the number of new National Insurance numbers issued to incoming foreign workers, which appear to be dramatically higher than official immigration statistics.

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said that the government said releasing the information on National Insurance numbers requested would:

...at this stage, be unhelpful to the negotiation process.

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