Boris Johnson urges ministers to come clean on immigration
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called for estimates on the number of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants Britain can expect after Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg refused to divulge the information.
The Mayor reportedly called the Liberal Democrats a “great big vacillating jelly of indecision” for not releasing figures. This was said during a visit to Eastleigh’s by-election campaign where Johnson showed his support for Conservative candidate Maria Hutchings on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Clegg refused to give estimates on Call Clegg, a morning call-in show at LBC radio. Clegg admitted seeing estimates but said “the government is not going to pretend we have scientific figures”.
Defending his choice not to provide an estimate, Clegg said: “Under the last government there was a complete loss of confidence in the government’s ability to run an immigration system”, referring to the previous underestimate of the number of Polish and Czech workers.
Clegg reassured listeners that estimates would be revealed if they “become precise enough that we can merit putting them out there”.
In January 2014 transitional restraints on Romanian and Bulgarian workers will be lifted, creating concerns that there will be a massive influx of migrant workers.
The Migration Advisory Committee, a non-departmental public body of appointed experts who advise the Government on migration issues, provided estimates on Romanian and Bulgarian net migration in December 2008.
In 2005, the Treaty of Accession concerning Romania and Bulgaria’s joining the European Union asserted: “Bulgaria and Romania shall acquire the same rights and obligations under those agreements and conventions as the present [EU countries]”.
Current UK Border Agency regulations state Romanians and Bulgarians can come and live in the UK unchecked, as long as they are self-sufficient and not “an unreasonable burden on public funds”. They still have to apply for a work permit under most circumstances.
The non-affiliated body Migration Watch has also raised concerns along with Boris, claiming on its website: “There has indeed been a massive inflow of migrants from Eastern Europe; by 2010 the number of people born in Eastern Europe, but resident in the UK had risen to 776,000”.
On the 27th January, Boris told of his concern at “the wave of migration from Romania and Bulgaria expected this year” in an interview for The Sunday Telegraph.
On the 30th January, Romanian website Gandul hit back with a tongue-in-cheek advert campaign welcoming migrants to Romania, stating: “Half our women look like Kate [Middleton]. The other half, her sister”.