A Foreign Office-commissioned report has directly challenged claims by David Cameron and others that Britain faces a significant new wave of immigration from eastern Europe when labour movement restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania are lifted next January.
The study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research says that Britain is unlikely to be the preferred destination for Bulgarians and Romanians and says those who do come are not planning to exploit the benefits system and public services. The researchers say it is not possible to put an accurate or reliable figure on how many people will come to Britain but adds that those who do move are far more likely to go to Spain, Italy and to a lesser extent Germany.
The tone of the report is in sharp contrast to last week’s immigration speech by David Cameron.
THE VOICE OF PUBLIC OPINION:
I.S. ‘I live in Romania, the UK is just not very attractive to Romanians.
It clashes with their idea of good quality of life, it’s a long way away and has crap transport links with Romania, the language is comparatively hard (a Romanian can become a fluent Spanish or Italian speaker in a matter of 3 months), there is no support network of Romanians to help setting up.
Anybody who thinks Romanians will go to the UK for 53 quid a week and a room in Moss Side is living in cloud cuckoo land, and has no experience of either living on benefits or migrating to a new country.
They will go in reasonably high numbers to Germany though.’
Z.E. ‘ I live in Bulgaria. People here know that I spent nearly 20 years in the UK, so they think I am an expert on all things British. Lately, everyone has been asking me why Brits think that Bulgarians have already packed and are just waiting for that fateful day in 2014 when restrictions will be lifted. They sound almost defensive, “What did we say or do to inspire this vitriol?” There are just 26,000 in the UK now. Think about it – that is a really small number. Everyone from Bulgaria who wants to work in the UK already does – there are many different ways to do this.
S.T.’ I wonder if Cameron will apologise for insulting Romania and Bulgaria to appease his obnoxious tub thumpers? Somehow I doubt it.’
O.S.Nobody in Romania is talking about looking for work in the UK, it just doesn’t come up. Very few people even know the law is changing.