06 December 2012

Tory MP slams Government over UK immigration ambiguity

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Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone has labelled the Government a 'disgrace' for its inability to accurately predict UK immigration rates in the next few years when Bulgaria and Romania join the EU next year.

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Mr Hollobone says 'swathes' of British countryside will have to be built over to accommodate new arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania.

Anti-immigration advocates fear the two Balkan nations' accession to the European Union - and therefore their citizens' access to the Freedom of Movement - will trigger an influx of immigrants similar to that seen in 2004.

In 2004, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania acceded to the EU and led to record rates of UK immigration; critics have blamed the previous-Labour government for failing to put in place sufficient controls.

Labour predicted at the time that approximately 12,000 migrants a year would move to the UK but figures eventually exceeded 250,000 until the current, Conservative-led coalition Government's more stringent measures began to take effect.

However, Mr Hollobone has complained about the lack of accurate estimates relating to Bulgaria and Romania's accession to the EU and fears the same mistake could be made twice.

"If we apply that same rate [given to Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania] to the entry of Romania, with 21 million people, and Bulgaria, with 7 million, the 155,000 presently resident in the UK would climb to some 425,000," Mr Hollobone told the Commons.

The Kettering MP, who is known for his strict conservative principles, fears this will have grave consequences for Britain.

"What we are going to see is swathes of our countryside built over to accommodate the millions of new arrivals from the European Union, over which we seemingly have little control.

"It's a disgrace the Government won't estimate the number of immigrant it expects from Bulgaria and Romania.

"It's bad enough to open out borders to all and sundry, but it adds insult to injury to then not even give the British people an estimate of how many incomers we can expect."

Immigration Minister Mark Harper defended the Government's reluctance to release estimates, claiming they were incredibly dependent on  a number of different factors.

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