Letter : Race relations: EU border controls, Clause IV, `honorary' citizen

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From Mr Gerald Holtham

Sir: You recognise that the debate on border controls is dominated not by fear of immigration but of black immigration ("The race card is still in the pack", 14 February). It is disappointing, therefore, that you conclude, albeit reluctantly, that the UK may have to maintain its EU border controls in order to avoid fuelling racism.

The UK made a clear commitment in 1986 when it ratified the Single European Act, to remove border controls for those travelling from other parts of the European Community. Tight controls at the external borders are to replace internal checks at each border. UK residents will benefit from this freedom as much as other Europeans.

You argue that we may not be able to honour this obligation and enjoy those benefits because of the impact on racist opinion. This overlooks the powerful impact government could have on public opinion if it chose to remind us of the benefits of free movement rather than fuelling our fears. Where government focuses solely on the negative, even refusing last year to publish research on refugees that demonstrated their economic contribution, we cannot expect more reasoned attitudes from the public. The Institute for Public Policy Research is preparing a report on the steps that central and local government could take to influence attitudes towards immigrants and members of minorities. The question is whether there will be any political will to implement our proposals.

Yours sincerely,

GERALD HOLTHAM

Director

Institute for Public Policy Research

London, WC1

15 February

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