Not Saussure

October 23, 2006

Reality begins to catch up with Dr Reid; Damien Green still giving it a good run for its money, though.

Filed under: EU, hubris, nemesis, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 7:15 pm

It’s gratifying to learn that reality has finally caught up with some Labour ministers;

John Reid’s plans for controls on immigrants from new EU countries have been privately dismissed by government colleagues as “cosmetic posturing”.

The Home Secretary will this week unveil proposals to control immigration from Romania and Bulgaria when they join the European Union in January.

Mr Reid is expected to abandon the so-called “open door” policy which has allowed an estimated 600,000 people from Poland and other Eastern European EU states to work freely in the UK. […]

But with freedom of movement guaranteed now across the EU, there are fears that Mr Reid will drive many immigrants from the two new countries into working in the UK on the black market.

Equally, there are concerns that law-abiding immigrants will be dissuaded from coming while criminal elements would be undeterred.

The Open Europe think tank has already warned of a “worst of all worlds” in which genuine migrants stay away “while criminals and those who come with no intention of working would still be let in”.

One minister dismissed Mr Reid’s initiative as “cosmetic posturing”.

Tim Worstall rightly says, ‘Told you so,’ and it’s a theme I’ve mentioned now and again, too.

However, it’s a tad dispiriting to see his opposite number miss the point so spectacularly; the report continues

Damian Green, the Conservative shadow home affairs spokesman, urged Mr Reid to “stop dithering” and give Britain the same immigration controls as the other main EU countries to ensure that “we only take in the people who will benefit our economy”.

Dr Reid’s problem, you twerp, is precisely that there’s no legal way for any EU country to enforce such controls, and if you try to introduce them they just get ignored, giving you what the Open Europe group call ‘the worst of all worlds’. David Rennie, The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, described back in August what actually happens in countries like Belgium, where he’s based, that attempt to introduce such cosmetic controls:

Belgium did indeed erect strict barriers to Polish plumbers, Latvian labourers and the rest. And here’s the thing, I think, as I pedal through the streets of my neighbourhood, Saint-Gilles – all those robust, stern-sounding controls made not the blindest bit of difference.

You see, my home district is home to thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of Polish workers, most of them illegal. They do not hide themselves. Every other car in my street has Polish plates. One street away is permanently lined with large white panel vans, used as rough and ready mobile homes by day labourers from Bialystok, or plumbers from Poznan, who visit for a week at a time.

Why should they hide themselves? They are EU citizens and, as such, they have every right to be here. If they are caught working illegally, they may be fined, and can even – in theory – be ordered home to Poland. But after a day or so to lick their wounds, they are free to come straight back to Belgium – and there is next to nothing the Belgian authorities can do to stop them.

He concluded his discussion thus,

Faced with an avalanche of headlines about immigration, British politicians may yet ignore the risks, and choose to follow the Belgian model anyway. It’s their right, but I would urge a trip to Belgium first, to see that work permit restrictions on EU citizens simply do not work. If they do not believe me, they can come to my house, and meet the Polish workers camping outside.

Maybe we could club together and buy Damien Green a ticket on Eurostar so he can take up David Rennie’s offer.

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1 Comment »

  1. great post!!!

    Comment by Georgiana — October 24, 2006 @ 1:20 pm

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