Romanian and Bulgarian migration: Ukip urged to apologise over immigration 'lies and rhetoris'

There are now 4,000 fewer people from the two countries employed in Britain since ‘floodgates’ opened last year

Deputy Political Editor

Numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain have fallen by 4,000 in the first three months since visa restrictions were scrapped, official figures revealed today.

The statistics contradict claims by the UK Independence Party (Ukip) that Britain would be hit by an influx of workers from the two east European states once the transitional controls were lifted on January 1.

Ukip warned that the “floodgates will open”, while the pressure group Migration Watch predicted 50,000 arrivals a year from Romania and Bulgaria.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said the new figures “gave the lie to Ukip’s scaremongering on immigration”. He said: “The very modest numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to work in Britain this year is in stark contrast to the inflammatory rhetoric of earlier this year.”

Ahead of the removal of visa controls, the Government also rushed in changes to welfare rules designed to deter “benefit tourism” and David Cameron called for new rules on “freedom of movement” for new EU member states.

Read more: Nick Clegg: We can create a place where all young people can get ahead

The Office for National Statistics reported that there were 140,000 Romanians and Bulgarians employed in the UK in the first quarter of 2014. That was a fall of 4,000 on the final three months of last year, but an increase of 28,000 over the last 12 months.

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, demanded an apology from Ukip and others who “promised the end of the world”.

 

Keith Vaz went to Luton airport on 1 January to assess numbers of new arrivals from the two countries, only to encounter one passenger.

He said: “The committee viewed for itself how the supposed flood of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria was little more than a trickle.

"It would appear now that many may have actually left the UK.

"Those, including UKIP, who promised the end of the world on January 1, now owe the public and those from Romania and Bulgaria a full apology.”

Ukip pointed to separate ONS statistics, showing numbers of foreign workers in Britain has risen by 292,000 over the last year.

Its leader, Nigel Farage, said they demonstrated that Coalition immigration policy was an “abject failure”. He said: “Far from controlling immigration, this government has shown it has absolutely no control over Britain's borders and no intention of putting the British people first.”

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “These quarterly statistics always fluctuate. The latest annual figures show an increase of 28,000, in a period when restrictions were in place for nine months.

“We believe they are consistent with our estimate of a 50,000 population increase from Romania and Bulgaria for each of the next five years.”

* A minister has admitted the Government would not hit its target of reducing net migration to tens of thousands.

Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said: “At the moment we don’t seem to be on course.”

The latest figures showed net migration running at more than 210,000. New figures will be published next week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'