As another Eastern European country, Croatia, is set to join the ever expanding European Union, a Conservative MP is openly challenging his Government to drop “barking mad” EU immigration proposals and cut back on mass migration from Eastern Europe.
Tory MP Stewart Jackson will introduce a private members Bill in Parliament calling for curbs on immigration on Wednesday, whilst Tory and Labour MP’s unite against Prime Minister David Cameron in demanding a cut in the EU’s Budget.
“There are two extremes,” Jackson said in an interview with The Huffington Post UK this week.
“One is to say we have no controls at all and accept we are subject to massive immigration flows. If that happens there is no chance of making substantial process of welfare reforms.”
Jackson added: “The other extreme is we leave the EU and say ‘that’s it we’ve had enough’.”
If successful, Jackson’s Bill would force the government to vary the conditions attached to the 2004 Free Movement Directive, which has enabled millions of EU citizens to freely live and work in the UK.
Critics argue that this unprecedented mass migration is taking jobs away from young Britons and fear that even more British jobs will be at risk when 30 million Bulgarians and Romanians acquire full freedom of movement rights to live and work in the UK from 1 January 2014. See: ‘Free Movement of EU nationals explained’
Private members Bills rarely become law, and this one lack government backing. However, Jackson sees it as a way to publicly embarrass the government into giving the right of the party some intermediate concessions, since Britain unlikely to leave the EU.
Free movement labour of EU workers is one of the union’s founding principles, despite the fact that countries like Germany and France did not extend this privilege to the first wave of eastern European migrants in 2004. This caused a massive imbalance of migration into Britain, Ireland and Sweden who were ‘caught with the pants down’ by the sly French and Germans.
Brussels would fiercely oppose any attempt to drop free movement, and the UK has already been ordered by the European Commission to explain why it is discriminating against Bulgarian and Romanians, who are not allowed to work in the Britain without a permit or yellow card.
The Conservatives after the party pledged to cut immigration from more than 200,000 to “tens of thousands”, but cannot stop EU immigration without reneging on treaties.
Jackson insisted: “There is much more wiggle room than people think, we don’t take the opportunity of wiggling.”
Home Secretary Theresa May recently said she was considering ‘curbs on EU immigration’ but has not said how she intends to implement them.
“I was pleased that she did acknowledge that it’s an issue. The big issue is that we are in the process of developing an immigration system that is barking mad.”
Jackson also told HuffPost UK that banning the “best brains” in Asia from studying or working in the UK while accepting unskilled workers from Europe who would simply come to “pick asparagus in Lincolnshire” was a mistake.
He added: “I’m saying we’ve got to have immigration control, we must have quality control.”
The MP for Peterborough, which has seen more than its fair share of EU immigration, said mass immigration from Eastern Europe had piled pressure on local services such as social housing and healthcare in his constituency. He said: “34% primary school children in Peterborough don’t have English as their first language.”
And added that if the UK accepted more immigrants from Eastern Europe there was “no chance” of cutting back on welfare payments.
His Bill will push for changes in the law to allow Ministers to vary the 2004 Directive to ensure that EU migrants who come to the UK have a job arranged, have no recourse to public funds for 18 months, have no criminal records and are in good health. All of the above would totally fly in the face of the principles of EU free movement.
This week Sir Andrew Green, Director of anti-immigration pressure group MigrationWatch UK, demanded that the British Government to extend work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians for a further 5 years.
With the next wave of EU immigration due next year from Croatia, the UK Government has already acted to ‘head them off at the pass’. Earlier this month it was announced that the Government had introduced to Parliament the ‘European Union (Croatian Accession) Bill’. The bill includes provisions for transitional access arrangements for Croatian nationals.
Croatia is expected to join the European Union in less than a year on 1 July 2013.
Transitional arrangements, similar to those imposed on Bulgarians and Romanians, will restrict Croatian nationals’ full and free access to the UK job market.
Bulgarian and Romanian migrants who want to work in the UK must apply for a yellow card permits, WP1 work permits (for skilled workers), seasonal agricultural temporary work, au pair permits (age limits), or start a business as a genuine self employed person. But thousands are choosing the more flexible yellow card work study route, which allows full time work for those taking vocational work-based courses such as NVQ’s.
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Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians. UK jobs are available in the care industry.
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