Tom Gallagher Romanians camped out in London’s Park Lane feel they have reached a hopeful New World where, because of the distinctive nature of Britain’s welfare state, they can access its services
Last week, the Home Affairs Select Committee descended on Bucharest to try and estimate if conditions in Romania were as bad as sections of the media were claiming. They were presented with a report by one of the country’s main polling companies which indicated that 24 percent of 18 to 35 year-olds were interested in working in Britain.
The UK’s remaining labour restrictions will cease in January and it would go against all trends in European migration over the last two hundred years if there was not an exodus towards these shores.
The Romanians are a famously cheerful lot, but any really observant MPs on Keith Vaz’s select committee would have soon found evidence of a demoralised country. Where work can be found, the wages are derisory and usually unable to meet basic living expenses.
This applies even for middle-class occupations which explains why there is an exodus of qualified doctors and other professionals. Bribery is often the norm in order to obtain services which in Britain are strictly free. No wonder Romanians camped out in London’s Park Lane feel they have reached a hopeful New World where, because of the distinctive nature of Britain’s welfare state, they can access its services.
This is Merry England and not grim-faced Germany or capricious France where officials crack down on misdemeanours and send misbehaving Romanians back home irrespective of what European laws might say. If coming to Britain involved the perilous oceanic crossing that millions of Europeans undertook to reach America after 1700, the Romanians would still come. Common sense ought to indicate that and contingency plans should be made to try and prevent doctors’ surgeries, hospitals and other social services being overwhelmed by the new arrivals.