MP's call for calm over mass immigration as Bulgarians and Romanians arrive in the UK

Bulgarian and Romanian citizens will now be free to live and work in Britain

The first Bulgarians and Romanians benefiting from unrestricted access to the UK labour market have begun to arrive as politicians move to appease fears that Britain could be flooded with migrants.

Romanians landing at Luton Airport were greeted by Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, who said the number of arrivals provided just a "snapshot" of those expected to come to the UK in the coming months.

Mr Vaz highlighted that there is no evidence to support claims that eastern European migrants have "rushed out and bought tickets" to the UK as suggested by several media reports earlier this week.

He said: "Just on the conversations we've had with people who have come here, a lot of them are returning people, they already work in Britain and they're coming back after a holiday so they're not people coming here for the first time."

Mr Vaz criticised the Government's refusal to publish or commission estimates of the number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants expected to enter the UK as restrictions are lifted. He suggested that the lack of information has fuelled "unnecessary" concerns.

Unofficial figures estimate that as many as 50,000 migrants could come to the UK each year. But this has not been officially confirmed. 

The Labour MP for Leicester East added: "The concern of the committee has always been the lack of robust estimates of people coming here and we still feel very strongly the Government ought to have asked the Migration Advisory Committee to have conducted a piece of research which would have told us the number of people who came into this country or were coming into this country.

"We think that would have been extremely helpful. The fact that we don't have those estimates means that we have this kind of drama at the end, which is not helpful to anybody."

His comments come after 90 senior Tories urged Prime Minister David Cameron to keep the borders shut and extend controls on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants.

Philippa Roe, Conservative leader of Westminster City Council, suggested that most eastern Europeans would abuse "our welfare system", "pickpocket", "aggressively beg" and “defecate” on people’s front doorsteps – but failed to provide evidence to back her claims.

A cross-party group of MPs has called for calm and criticised the inflammatory language used by politicians that is stoking up tension against migrants.

Andrew George, a Lib Dem MP who is chairman of the group, told the Guardian: "They already exist in an environment of deep prejudice and community tension anyway.

"This is just setting them back after making some progress in some of the areas in which they have improved their relations. There is collateral damage going on for the wider traveller community."

The European Commission said that it is unlikely that Britain would see a mass influx of eastern Europeans since Bulgarian and Romanian citizens have already been allowed to work without restrictions in 19 EU countries.

Laszlo Ander, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: “It is unlikely that there will be any major increase following the ending of the final restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers."

He added that the free movement of people has been one of the "cornerstones of EU integration" that is "most cherished" by Europeans, who are allowed to study, work and study across the union.

The Romanian government has also moved to dispel fears insisting that the UK is "not the preferred destination" for their citizens. Romanian representative Roxana Carare, an Honorary Consul in Britain, added that the number of people entering the country will not change.

Speaking on the BBC, she said: "Britain is not top of the list because this is an Anglo-Saxon country and Romania is a Latin country. People are more likely to go to Italy, Spain and other Latin countries."

Damian Draghici, adviser to the Romanian PM, suggested that the British government should worry about the bankers who are "stealing billions" instead of the Roma begging on the streets for one euro.

The UK imposed the seven-year restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria after they joined the EU in 2007 – only allowing citizens a visa if they were self-employed, had a job offer, or were given a specialist role.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test