Wednesday, May 18, 2016

NEW BOOK: Thom Brooks, Becoming British

. . . available at all good bookstores now!

From the back cover:
From Syrian asylum seekers to super-rich foreign investors, immigration is one of the most controversial issues facing Britain today. Politicians kick the subject from one election to the next with energetic but ineffectual promises to ‘crack down’, while newspaper editors plaster it across front pages.

But few know the truth behind the headlines; indeed, the almost daily changes to our complex immigration laws pile up so quickly that even the officials in charge struggle to keep up.

In this clear, concise guide, Thom Brooks, one of the UK’s leading experts on British citizenship – and a newly initiated British citizen himself – deftly navigates the perennially thorny path, exploding myths and exposing absurdities along the way. Ranging from how to test for ‘Britishness’ to how to tackle EU ‘free movement’, Becoming British explores how UK immigration really works – and sparks a long-overdue debate about how it should work.

Combining expert analysis with a blistering critique of the failings of successive governments, this is the definitive guide to one of the most hotly disputed issues in the UK today. Wherever you stand on the immigration debate, Brooks’s wryly observed account is the essential roadmap.

Can you pass the British citizenship test? Take my quiz here -- and learn more about my new book!

Can you pass the British citizenship test? Take my quiz -- and read my book.

Great fun in new blog post at my publisher's website promoting my new book Becoming British HERE. Enjoy!

Labour is Listening - Supporting SMEs

The Labour Party has a great new tool to connect with voters called 'Labour is Listening'. You can submit comments or policy suggestions on topical issues. This is what I sent today on how the Labour Party can support SMEs in new ways:

Most policy ideas for SMEs concern taxation and/or regulations. Tax breaks and incentives alongside more effective - and necessary - red tape are important.

But one further suggestion is to promote a more co-operative model. Small businesses are separate companies, but they can have shared interests. My father ran a bicycle shop out of a single shop. He was able to compete better with larger businesses and national chains by making a partnership with other independent bicycle owners in the wider area. They could pool resources and help each other with stock in a mutually beneficial way. Everyone kept their independence while preserving their freedom.

Some type of SME partnership for small businesses could help build in greater resilience to the benefit of these businesses, the local economies they serve and their customers. This could be managed through traditional means like tax incentives, but another way is engaging creatively with local chambers of commerce and trade organisations - as well as the unions. We're all in it together when it comes to a strong local economy.

Thom Brooks
Professor of Law and Government, Durham University

STATEMENT ON QUEEN'S SPEECH: Are Cameron's Prison Reforms a Revolution?

Today's Queen’s Speech is to announce “the biggest shake-up” of the prison service “since Victorian times”. What is happening? Governors of six prisons will have more control over budgets and daily routines. A grand total of just 5,000 offenders will be affected.

This is really about two things. The first is a step towards making prisons more like academies. Prison governors will have control over budgets like school headteachers.

The second is that prisons can earn an income – like from the work by prisoners. Expect to hear nothing about the potential pressure on low skilled labourers in areas near these prisons.

These plans say little about what will happen in prisons, only who has more budgetary freedom. And this is all a long way from addressing the problems of overcriminalization – and overcrowding.

The best prison reform is to improve criminal justice so prisons are needed less. These reforms may do nothing to stem the tide of offenders entering our prison system. Prison governors may have budgetary freedom for their use within a prison's four walls, but they have no freedom over deciding who should there or for how long. And what will they do? When we know that, we'll know whether this was a revolution in the making -- or a government spin to deflect attention from an exhausting EU Referendum campaign...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Great British Citizenship Test Quiz

Fun link AVAILABLE HERE on Biteback Publishing's blog promoting my book Becoming British. How well did you do?

Friday, May 06, 2016

NEW BOOK: Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined published by Biteback

From the back cover:

From Syrian asylum seekers to super-rich foreign investors, immigration is one of the most controversial issues facing Britain today. Politicians kick the subject from one election to the next with energetic but ineffectual promises to ‘crack down’, while newspaper editors plaster it across front pages.

But few know the truth behind the headlines; indeed, the almost daily changes to our complex immigration laws pile up so quickly that even the officials in charge struggle to keep up.

In this clear, concise guide, Thom Brooks, one of the UK’s leading experts on British citizenship – and a newly initiated British citizen himself – deftly navigates the perennially thorny path, exploding myths and exposing absurdities along the way. Ranging from how to test for ‘Britishness’ to how to tackle EU ‘free movement’, Becoming British explores how UK immigration really works – and sparks a long-overdue debate about how it should work.

Combining expert analysis with a blistering critique of the failings of successive governments, this is the definitive guide to one of the most hotly disputed issues in the UK today. Wherever you stand on the immigration debate, Brooks’s wryly observed account is the essential roadmap.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Boris and Gove are becoming the Brexit Chuckle Brothers - and it isn't funny (or truthful)

My latest statement on the "Brexit fightback" today by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove --

·         Boris and Gove sound more and more like the Brexit Chuckle Brothers – they’re having a laugh about migration fears.

·         There is no “free-for-all” on migration. The UK controls who can enter its borders – leaving the EU doesn’t change that.

·         There is no “unfettered” right of EU migrants to come and go into Britain. Like all rights, there are responsibilities. EU migrants can – and are – deported when abusing rights of travel in the EU. As Justice Secretary, Gove should know this or be informed by his advisors.

·         But what Boris and Gove don’t tell you is Brexit would mean the Dublin regulation on asylum seekers would no longer apply to Britain. The regulation is an EU agreement that asylum seekers entering the EU from one country must have any claim for asylum heard in that country. This supports deportations from countries like Britain to others on the EU’s southern border. But if there was a Brexit, Britain is out of this agreement and must assess all claims in the UK.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Institute of Advanced Study fellowships at Durham University for 2017-18

Durham University has launched its call for applications to its Institute of Advanced Study fellowships for 2017-18. The IAS runs thematic calls each year and the next is on Structure.

Our Law School can nominate fellowships - or applicants can apply without a nomination - and I would be very happy to support nominations, as the in-coming Head of School from August.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that all visiting fellows at the IAS must establish some collaborative undertaking with a Durham academic. This is broadly construed covering joint publications or research projects, a co-convened workshop or event and other 'outputs'.
Details about nomination are at A CV for the proposed Fellow should be appended to the nomination pro forma, with details of how the University will benefit from the proposed research activity. The deadline for nominations and applications is 10th June 2016.

Further details about the IAS Fellowship are at

Thursday, April 07, 2016


General website can be found HERE.  My submission today is as follows:


Written submission by Prof Thom Brooks, Durham University’s Law School[1]


How are prisoners helped to find employment; is support available both pre and post-release?

More can be done to support ex-offenders to find employment both pre and post-release:

Recommendation1: Support for short-term offenders in prisons

Most offenders serve less than one year in prison. Yet most rehabilitative efforts in prisons are reserved for offenders with longer sentences. The result is that most offenders transitioning through the criminal justice system lack access to rehabilitative treatments while in custody. These treatments include several that could yield significant benefits for offenders serving short-term sentences, including drug and alcohol treatments and cognitive behavioural therapy (‘CBT’).[2]

An offender’s problems do not start when imprisoned – instead, prison is a kind of confirmation that problems exist. The problems referred to here are risk factors for future offending – including drug and alcohol abuse[3] and mental health issues – that can be improved through treatment.[4] There is evidence that treatment in these areas can be delivered effectively in prisons[5] – and evidence that is reserved for the fewer serving longer sentences. The rationale is that prisons work with limited resources and greater gains are believed possible for offenders with longer sentences of over one year. More can and should be done to extend such treatment to more offenders. If these crucial risk factors can be reduced or eliminated, this will better enable a successful transition into long-term employment.[6]

Recommendation 2: Provide Incentives for Restoration of Rights

A criminal record can be a barrier to employment that cannot be discounted. This will be a bar to finding work limiting the kinds of work and employers available. This is inevitable and permissible in proportion to an offender’s wrongdoing.

It is possible for some offenders to erase their criminal records through participating in a restorative justice mediation or conference and fulfilling contractual terms.[7] But there remain barriers for offenders who serve time in prison.

Several American states, most notably New York State, are making use of new Restoration of Rights powers.[8] These permit offenders on release to apply for employment without stating criminal convictions if meeting certain conditions.[9] These might include being open to offenders serving minimal terms in prison for specific minor offences and after a period of time on release without further convictions. This rewards those who have remained lawful by restoring their rights to work as if never a prisoner – and can open up more options for work in the long term on continued good behaviour over the short term. Conditions might still disqualify applying for work in some sectors like schools.

Recommendation 3: Encourage Sentencing Council to Revisit Guidelines

Section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 lists purposes of sentencing and these include the rehabilitation of offenders. Existing guidelines might benefit from a more explicit engagement with this purpose (and the others) to mandate some element of rehabilitation where possible in prison or post-release, including employability training.

What benefit payments are available on discharge from prison and how long does it take to access those benefits?

No comment.

Do the employment and education programmes available in prisons prepare prisoners for formal employment?

I would recommend bolstering these programmes by providing incentives for higher and further educational institutions to support their launch and/or maintenance. This is a precedent in American states.

What support do offenders receive to help them find suitable accommodation on leaving prison?

No comment.

What are the impacts of factors such as homelessness and unemployment on the propensity to re-offend?

The available evidence suggests homelessness and unemployment are high risk factors for future re-offending. There is clear overlap with other high risk factors like financial insecurity and can overlap with mental health needs.[10]

Submitted by Professor Thom Brooks, Chair in Law and Government, Durham Law School, Durham University, email:  on 7 April 2016

[1] Professor Thom Brooks FAcSS FHEA FRHisS FRSA, Chair in Law and Government, Durham Law School, Durham University, Durham DH1 3LE, email:, @thom_brooks,
[2] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 51—55.
[3] See Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol and Public Policy’, Contemporary Social Science 8(1) (2013): 1—7; Thom Brooks (ed.), Alcohol and Public Policy (London: Routledge, 2015); Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol, Risks and Public Policy’ in (ed.), Alcohol and Public Policy (London: Routledge, 2015): 27—33 and Thom Brooks, ‘Alcohol and Controlling Risks Through Nudges’, The New Bioethics 21(1) (2015): 46—55.
[4] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 179—187, see also 66—67 and 73—75 and Graham J. Towl, ‘Drug-Misuse Intervention Work’ in (ed.), Psychological Research in Prisons (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006).
[5] See George W. Joe, et. al., ‘An Evaluation of Six Brief Interventions That Target Drug-Related Problems in Correctional Populations’, 51 Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 9 (2012) and M. Daly, et. al., ‘Cost-Effectiveness of COneccticut’s In-Prison Substance Abuse Treatment’, 39 Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 69 (2004).
[6] See further research in Thom Brooks, ‘Stakeholder Sentencing’ in Julian Roberts and Jesper Ryberg (eds), Popular Punishment: On the Normative Significance of Public Opinion for Penal Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014): 447—465.
[7] See. See further research in Thom Brooks, ‘On Punitive Restoration’, Demos Quarterly 2 (2014): 41—44 and Thom Brooks, ‘Punitive Restoration: Rehabilitating Restorative Justice’, Raisons Politiques (2015): 65—81.
[8] New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, ‘Who is Eligible for a Certificate of Relief ?’ ( Interestingly, the Certificate of Relief and Certificate of Good Conduct are both designed explicitly with a view to ‘the restoration of rights’. See New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, ‘Restoration of Rights’ ( See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 212.
[9] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 143—147.
[10] See Thom Brooks, Punishment (London: Routledge, 2012): 54, 60—61, 83—84, 144—146, 186—187, 207—9, 212—214.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

STATEMENT: EU Commission reforms of common asylum policy UPDATE

Statement by Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University's Law School:

·         The EU Commission is clear: the current system “was not designed to ensure a sustainable sharing of responsibility of asylum applications”. In other words, the Dublin Regulation must be reformed to deal with the continuing migrant crisis.

·         The EU Commission problems exist with how the Regulation has been implemented in general – noting “serious shortcomings” – and that more must be done in working with third countries. But even a more strictly applied Dublin Regulation would be unsustainable in the long term too “in the face of continuing migratory pressure”.

·         In response, the EU Commission has five priorities so the system can be “structurally improved”, such as making the system more sustainable and fair, and by “strengthening and harmonising further” current rules.

·         This will involve – and I quote – “a new Regulation” to “reform” the current system “as a matter of priority”.

·         And none of this will happen until AFTER the EU Referendum vote in the UK.

UPDATE: This can have profound implications. If the EU ends the current asylum policy (Dublin Regulation) in favour of a new Regulation, the UK will have to make a choice whether to be in or out. There would be no option to keep the current deal which the government favours. Any new deal would not be as preferable, but opting out might be even less so. Either way, much that the government will protest - but first it must win the vote to stay in before making the case against this reform that now looks inevitable with only the details of its implementation to follow (and on a strict timetable for this summer - this is going to move quickly).

I can be contacted by EMAIL HERE


STATEMENT: Cruz and Sanders gain big wins, but what does it mean for Trump and Clinton?

A statement on the latest primary results from Wisconsin:

Bernie’s big win causes more headaches for Hillary. While he remains a long shot to win the nomination, the longer he delays Hillary becoming the Democrat’s candidate then the more resources it drains from Hillary’s war chest to take on the Republican nominee.


There is a real difference between the camps in an increasingly heated contest – raising the issue of whether the party can come together to support whoever becomes the nominee.


But the problems for Democrats are nothing like that for Republicans. Cruz’s win is not as important as Trump’s defeat. The Donald’s seemingly unstoppable – and improbably – race to the Republican nomination has faced its first serious set-back as the backlash against his candidacy gets some legs.


Incredibly, this backlash has been orchestrated by the party’s establishment in an unprecedented coordinated attack on a Republican front runner for the White House by Republicans – I cannot recall anything like this happening before.


Much of Trump’s rise has been unpredictable and no one should assume the end is nigh for his campaign. But the shock in Wisconsin could happen again soon – and if it does, Trump’s chances may finally be cast into serious doubt.

Monday, April 04, 2016

STATEMENT: Thom Brooks on return of migrants to Turkey today

A statement by Thom Brooks - Professor of Law and Government at Durham University - on the return of migrants in Greece to Turkey under the terms of the EU-Turkey 'one out, one in' deal:

·         The EU deal with Turkey on migration is already under severe strain.


·         The EU has only half the border guards needed to handle deportations, the Greek government has struggled to identify migrants for deportation because of a lack of translators and both the EU and Greece have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of migrants claiming asylum over the weekend.


·         As the first boat of 200 migrants is returned to Turkey, another 200 Syrian nationals will be sent off to Greece in a one-for-one swap.


·         This is meant to discourage and deter migrants from crossing over into Greece – and so reduce migration into Europe. But it is unclear still whether a one-for-one swap will have that effect. Nor is it clear that if this migration route is tightened, then others will not soon open up as migrants seek entry to the EU.


·         Either way, this issue is certain to remain alive throughout the referendum campaign - deflecting attention away from the PM’s reform plans for the EU.



UPDATE (6 April 2016): The return of migrants from Greece to Turkey is now suspended. Serious questions remain over the safe return of migrants to Turkey and what happens next. The current arrangement is for migrants to be returned to their native countries, but this is difficult, costly and takes time with many of these countries still unsafe.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Journal of Moral Philosophy makes ERIH PLUS journals list

. . . further information here. The ERIH PLUS list is the premier group of academic journals in Philosophy and other subjects (where there are such lists compiled by the ESF).

Friday, April 01, 2016

The legal war of words over the Calais jungle

. . . is the title of my recent column for the Solicitors Journal [READ MORE HERE].

Many thanks to Sciences Po Paris

. . . for inviting me to speak at their fabulous event "Villes et Migrations" held at College des Bernardins in Paris over this past week. A fabulous conference with engaging speakers from academia and public policy circles. I learned a lot - and in a most gorgeous location.

As an aside, it is increasingly clear to me that Sciences Po has one of the very best Political Theory programmes anywhere - and everyone also seems to have much better English than me, too. A seriously outstanding programme to keep an eye on with some great new talent.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Unpublished The Times Letter #16

. . .in my long running series of unpublished letters sent to the Times of London:

Sir, No doubt Brexit campaigners will use yesterday’s discovery of 50 migrants packed into two lorries as evidence Britain can have more secure borders outside the EU (reports, Mar 24). This would overlooks a more likely factor: cost cutting. The government’s ideological commitment to austerity risks undermining our border security. Lorries can travel unchecked to Kent because of a lack of funding for properly functioning security. This would also be a welcome deterrent. Perhaps Osborne could find further savings for this too?

Professor Thom Brooks

Those who choose to use to Brussels attacks to promote Brexit are trying to pull us apart

. . . is my latest column for The Journal [READ MORE HERE]

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Durham Law School ranked 41st in World

. . . in latest QS Rankings here.

Unpublished The Times Letter #15


The Public Affairs Committee report on e-Borders found passports left unchecked despite the government's pledge. It found no checks are made from the Republic of Ireland by land or sea. The Committee appears to overlook the fact there are often no checks from Ireland at airports either. This is caused neither by EU membership or the Common Travel Area, but the Ireland Act 1949 - and the Committee seems to have overlooked that too.

Friday, March 18, 2016

STATEMENT: On EU deal with Turkey on migrants

A brief statement on key developments on the European Union's proposed deal with Turkey on migrants:

The EU is offering a new deal with Turkey on migrants. The goal seems clear: to stem the numbers of migrants travelling from Turkey to Greece.

Migrants make this journey by sea, often exploited by illegal human traffickers. The journey is expensive and highly dangerous with several thousands drowning.

The new deal was to include a "one in, one out" policy. This was to work by taking all those persons migrating by sea to Greece and returning them to Turkey -- and in return the same number of persons still inside Turkey would be relocated to Greece in a one-for-one swap. The goal was to provide a deterrent to migrants considering making this dangerous journey - that surviving the journey would only see them returned to Turkey. It was also to provide an incentive for migrants to stay in camps, offering a possibility - but no guarantee - of future relocation. The deal would only apply to Syrians in Turkey.

But this has been changed. A key reason why is because the scheme was unlawful under international law. Any migrant seeking to make a claim for asylum must have that claim considered on its merits. People cannot be forcefully returned while denying a right to claim asylum. So the policy could not run as originally proposed.

The "one in, one out" policy is now more consistent with existing obligations under international law. Any migrant arriving in Greece who wants to claim asylum can. Those who do not and anyone denied asylum would be returned to Turkey. And for every person returned to Turkey, another person would be chosen from within Turkey - again only Syrian nationals - for relocation to the EU. Another one-for-one swap.

This change makes the policy lawful at the expense of undermining its original purpose. Everyone expects last year's record migration numbers to be surpassed in 2016. The statistics thus far bear this out. But this policy aiming at deterrence will do little to address the problem of numbers.

The reason is the policy is likely to see EU migration increase. If even larger record numbers of migrants come to the EU, that number will be allowed to come. Anyone with a legitimate claim for asylum can stay - as is their right. But now everyone who does not have a legitimate claim and is deported will be replaced. The migrants who come to the EU may change, but the overall numbers will be the same - at a time where they are expected to grow.

EU leaders are probably banking on the threat of returning migrants having some deterrent effect. If fewer travel over - realising their efforts are in vain if no legitimate claim for asylum - then there will be fewer to be replaced...and so the overall numbers may drop. But that's the theory. Whether or not it holds in practice is anyone's guess.

Legal issues remain. Turkey is not fully signed up to the Geneva Convention, it has not been deemed by the EU to be a "safe country" for refugees and Turkey has not yet granted asylum to Syrians. These issues all create headaches for the return policy.

But Turkey gets much out of this. The €3 billion of EU funding promised them is to be sped up and directed towards helping defray the high costs of running migrant camps. Turkish citizens look set to receive visa free travel (but not work visas) to the EU. There is also talk about speeding up discussions on Turkey's accession to the EU.

All of this could not come at a worse time for David Cameron. It is unlikely to help the "Remain" camp that EU migration is again in the headlines - with another complicated, difficult to understand deal on the table. It will also not help allay fears that visas may be waived for millions of people, large amounts of EU funding spent outside the EU and that EU membership for another new state is being talked about while the UK is weighing the pro's and con's of Britain's current deal. Adding such future uncertainties to "Remain" may undermine the force of their concerns about future uncertainties with the "Leave" camp supporting Brexit.

Finally, the biggest surprise of all to me is no talk about a EU-styled Coast Guard that would help secure Europe's coastal waters and prevent illegal human trafficking into Europe. If EU leaders are looking to find a deterrent, this would go some way to addressing this problem. But still there is too little coordination, too little effort and seemingly too little collective political will to make this happen despite its promising early steps late last year. Without a more coordinated and effected naval deterrent, the pathway into Europe will remain every bit as dangerous - and maybe every bit as used - as before.

This is in no one's interest, least of all of migrants.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Thanks to Bowling Green State University

Huge thanks to the Philosophy Department at Bowling Green State University for inviting me to give a keynote address alongside Doug Husak for their 6th annual workshop in applied ethics & public policy - on the topic of the ethics of policing and prisons. Some fabulous papers, wonderful people and great discussion.

Friday, March 04, 2016

On why the government getting it wrong on asylum

Live interview about government's poor record managing asylum seekers on @BBCWales from 01:38:00

Cameron's leading Britain on a slow march to Brexit (unabridged)

Cameron’s leading Britain on a slow march to Brexit

The EU referendum on whether Britain will remain or leave is one of the most important many of us will make in our lifetimes. If only it was that simple. What should be a decision about our shared political future is being twisted into a verdict on the personal legacy of one person: David Cameron.

Cameron’s real aim for the EU referendum is clear from the start. In 2013, he promised a vote on the EU if the Conservatives won the next general election. He said the country would debate the arguments ‘in favour and against the arrangement we negotiate’ – and not the current arrangement already in place.

The choice is between Cameron’s reformed Europe versus old Europe and this hasn’t changed more than two years later. Cameron made clear when announcing his proposals that: ‘It will be your decision whether to remain in the EU on the basis of the reforms we secure, or whether we leave’. For Cameron, this isn’t a referendum about Europe; this is about his political leadership.

It would be unfair to say he fails to grasp the how difficult this will be and he admitted having ‘no illusions about the scale of the task ahead’. Finding meaningful changes that all other 27 EU leaders and the EU Parliament can accept is more difficult than finding a needle in a large haystack hidden under a sea of straw. Cameron has done well to have any proposal on the table at all. Sometimes in politics having something – anything – as a plan is a kind of triumph.

But if Cameron succeeds – and there is every possibility that he won’t – his EU reforms increase the risks that the UK will Brexit. Despite his impressive negotiations these past weeks and months, it may be time to abandon ship with the reforms and focus the debate on Britain’s current relationship if Cameron is to help keep the UK in Europe.

We only need to look at the deal on offer to see why that is. Neither friend nor foe can deny that Cameron’s new deal is a complex mix of complex nuances intelligible to only a few beyond seasoned Eurocrats and civil servants. If you confuse voters, you lose elections. As Boris Johnson rightly said yesterday, Cameron’s reforms raise more questions than answers – and strangely become more obscure the closer you peek through this jargon riddled looking-glass.

Consider three flagship proposals: the emergency brake on benefits, the end of child benefits sent overseas and the red card on unwanted EU laws. Cameron’s ‘emergency brake’ is a key part of his new EU deal. The Prime Minister said recently that ‘people coming to Britain from the EU must live here and contribute for four years before they qualify for in work benefits or social housing’.

It sounds simple until you look at how it would work. The truth is it’s about as clear as North Korean rocket science. Cameron’s brake can only be used if the EU gives a green light. The UK must convince other members that a stop on benefits is ‘necessary’ because of the pressures from specifically EU migration with data Britain does not have. An emergency brake will be a temporary measure – this is no permanent policy Cameron had promised.

Cameron’s brake must be ‘proportionate’. The EU can agree an emergency brake is used in the UK or some other member state limiting it to just a year or two. What was to be a permanent four year brake is now a temporarily imposed measure from Brussels capped at four years maximum, but might always be for less than this. During this period, EU migrants will receive a growing share of in-work benefits. Not quite the ban for four years Cameron called for.

The emergency brake is meant to put a stop to child benefits for EU migrants, too. Cameron said: ‘we should end the practice of sending child benefit overseas’. But now we learn that any cap would not apply to any of the 150,000 or more EU migrants already in Britain - not one. Cameron has even been forced to admit migration his deal won’t cut migration either. It makes you wonder what’s the point of it all – a plan for its own sake?

A final key part of the EU reforms is a ‘red card’ for unwanted laws. But his proposal is more like a red card that does not always get players off the pitch – and the most convoluted of the lot.

Let’s start with the maths: all 28 EU countries have twelve weeks to get 55% or more ‘of the votes allocated to national Parliaments’ to stop it. This is as difficult to achieve as it is to understand – is that 55% of Parliaments or 55% of all members in national Parliaments? But before you do the sums, it gets worse.

Each Parliament that votes against a law must state its ‘reasoned opinions’ for it. Rejecting a proposed EU law is not enough – and a point missed thus far. (How could Westminster do that?) The European Council can then either let the bill die or it can ‘accommodate the concerns expressed’ through amending the bill so it can then become law.

Cameron’s flagship reforms can be summarised as an ‘emergency brake’ only operated by other drivers that doesn’t bring cars to a stop and a ‘red card’ that doesn’t throw all players off the pitch. Reforms they are; meaningful or readily intelligible they are not. Unsurprisingly, the initial polls are not looking good and ringing alarm bells in 10 Downing Street.

Speaking in Chippenham – coincidentally the birthplace of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – Cameron said his new deal is so good he would want Britain to join the EU on these terms if we were not already in.

But after two years his eagerly awaited deal looks dropped in less than a week. Gone is the pitch that Britain should stay in because of his new deal. Now a new tactic that Britain should remain out of the fear of what things would be like if there was a Brexit. Hope is replaced by fear.

What is surprising about Cameron’s claims that the Calais Jungle could move to Britain if there is a Brexit is not the absence of reality - the Treaty of Le Tourquet concerning the Eurotunnel is a bilateral agreement between the UK and France separate from the EU. No, the surprise is it took Cameron so little time to realise his much hyped reforms overegged the case for Remain – and more likely to push voters against them. 

When first announcing a referendum, Cameron said: ‘it is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain’s departure’. The big problem he faces is that we might say the same about him if the UK opts for a Brexit.

Cameron wanted a referendum about his legacy as well as the UK’s place in Europe. In tying them together, he risks losing both. Cameron’s best hope of seeing the UK in EU is to recognise its future does not depend on his new deal. Perhaps he can better achieve his future legacy by dropping the reforms that were to be its foundation. But would this be an act of statesmanship too much?

Thom Brooks is Professor of Law and Government at Durham University and regular LabourList contributor. His book Becoming British: UK Citizenship Examined is published by Biteback next month. @thom_brooks