Imagined newcomers fuel an all-too-real immigration panic.
Here they come: Vast hordes of indigent Romanians and Bulgarians, piling into Albion to steal good jobs from native-born Britons—when they’re not sponging off taxpayer-funded welfare benefits.
Such was the lurid immigration story painted in recent months by Nigel Farrage and his U.K. Independence Party, as the European Union’s labor-mobility rules were at last applied to Romania and Bulgaria. UKIP warned that Britain would be hit with 5,000 arrivals from the two countries each week. Do the math, and that comes to more than a quarter-million a year.
It turns out those immigrants aren’t coming after all. According to an Office of National Statistics study released earlier this summer, a total of 153,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were working in Britain in the second quarter. That’s up 9,000 from the end of 2013, when restrictions on these workers’ mobility were still in place. Total increase: 6%.