The colour of concern in Britain over immigration has changed from ‘brown’ and ‘black’ to ‘white’, with Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday leading the call to impose tough restrictions on citizens from Bulgaria and Romania, who will have the right to work and settle in London from 1 January.
Migration into Britain from the European Union is the proverbial elephant in the room: Britain can continue imposing new visa restrictions on citizens from India and other non-European Union countries, but as a member of the EU, it cannot curb the free movement on EU citizens and stop them from coming here.
Since 2004, when eight countries joined the EU and gained the right to move and settle in Britain, there have been increasing calls for restrictions as hundreds of thousands of citizens from these countries moved to Britain, putting a strain on housing, education, the benefits system and law and order.
The then Labour government granted full rights to citizens of the eight countries – called the Accession 8 countries: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Labour’s former foreign secretary, Jack Straw, now calls that decisions a ‘spectacular mistake’.
Cameron announced new restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, prompting a fierce reaction from top EU officials, who say Britain runs the risk of being seen as a “nasty” country, and urged Cameron not to encourage “hysteria”.
Less Indians migrating to UK: Survey
The number of Indians migrating to Britain has come down significantly, according to latest official figures released on Thursday, partly reflecting the lesser number of Indian students coming in London to study.
According to the figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), India has moved to the second place as the last country of residence of migrants in the list of top five countries from where migrants arrived in 2012 (India topped the list earlier).
Interesting, India is the third most favoured destination of British citizens emigrating. This may partly because of British citizens of Indian origin preferring to relocate to India for employment opportunities and family reasons.
ONS said Australia remained the most popular country of destination for emigrants from the UK in 2012. The remaining top countries of next residence are USA, India, China and France.