Jeremy Browne: Migrants are the same as Brits buying second homes abroad

The Home Office Minister says migrants from Bulgaria and Romania are following the same rules as Britons owning properties in places such as France and Spain
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Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne has said migrant workers from eastern Europe are just enjoying the same rights as Britons who purchase second homes in France and other European destinations.

Mr Browne said he welcomed the opening of Britain's borders to workers from EU countries such as Poland, and argued it had boosted the UK economy and transformed foreign relations.

He also expressed his anger that he and other Lib Dem ministers had not been consulted about a controversial mobile billboard campaign by the Home Office, saying: “Go home or face arrest.”

“I was not consulted beforehand, neither was Nick Clegg, and that is a serious oversight,” he said.

In an interview with the New Statesman magazine, he suggested that - in contrast to the Lib Dems' Conservative coalition partners - he was relaxed about the prospect of a new wave when restrictions were lifted in Janaury on workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

“They're only complying with the same rules as British people who live in Spain or have holiday houses in France, or who work in Germany,” he said.

Mr Browne said he believed he was part of an “unfashionable minority” in believing that allowing the influx of workers from the former Soviet bloc countries had been the right thing to do.

“I don't think there was a mistake. It was transformational in terms of Britain's relationship with countries like Poland,” he said.

“It was in our foreign policy interest but, at a much more direct, micro level, there are lots of employers in my constituency and around the country who are full of praise for the contribution that Poles have made to their businesses and the economy more generally.”

Additional reporting by Press Association