The speech is over, so what’s next?
In my analysis of EU media coverage, 30% of posts cited immigration of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens as a cause for concern. The Labour leadership has been prominent in raising concerns (presumably ‘penance’ for the last round of EU immigration), illustrating that this is far from an exclusive concern of the Right, while in a recent YouGov poll 49% identified immigration as one of their top three choices for repatriation of EU powers.
It’s fast becoming clear that this will be the big EU story of the year. As the December deadline approaches, I suspect UKIP will recover their mojo and lead the anti-immigration charge, Tories backbenchers will become restless again, Labour will look concerned and righteously urge government action, while the Tories and Lib Dems will try to do something, anything to look like they’ve got the situation under control.
With all that to look forward to, here’s my pick of the top 5 posts:
James Forsyth – Daily Mail
It was Forsyth’s post which broke the story that the government were considering a poster campaign to dissuade Romanians and Bulgarians from coming to Britain. This sparked a host of rain-related spoofs and a confused reply from Immigration Minister Mark Harper. The Thick of It looks more and more credible by the day. http://tinyurl.com/agegfco
Petros Fassoulas – New Statesman
A measured piece from the chairman of the European Movement. He argues in favour of EU free movement and sets about defending the record of immigrants in Britain. However, in spite of the title ‘immigration is a boon for society’, the post focuses almost solely on the economic arguments, and is mostly defensive in nature. Despite some good myth busting stats, he never really explains why, in social terms, it is a ‘boon for society’. http://tinyurl.com/b79eyan
Thomas Pascoe – Telegraph
Pascoe’s post cuts through the mud-slinging of the immigration debate and centres on the powerlessness of ministers to respond. The policy to launch an advertising campaign (true or not) is a symptom of the impotence of British ministers. We’re a member of the EU, we agreed (indeed, advocated) to the enlargement for Romania and Bulgaria and, as such, their citizens are entitled to free movement throughout the EU. A poster it is then. http://tinyurl.com/awzsf7t
Alex Massie – Spectator
A provocative but flawed pro-immigration post which misses as often as it lands blows. For example, I’m not convinced it’s credible to compare an influx of Geordies to an influx of Romanians given the differences in language, culture and national identity. However, he does make a strong argument that can be applied to other policy areas – British politicians want to have their cake and eat it. Most justify the EU because of the single market and yet they contradict themselves by seemingly opposing the free movement of people (one of the four pillars of the single market) and much of the single market in financial services. http://tinyurl.com/ayotpd5
Christopher Hope and Wesley Johnson – Telegraph
And what do the Romanians and Bulgarians make of it all? You can’t help but feel sorry for the Ambassador of Romania Ion Jinga as he tries to calm fears that his fellow countrymen are not a horde of scroungers. In doing so, he makes some intelligent points. When Brtiain opened its borders to other Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland, the UK was one of only three that did so in advance of the deadlines. This time Britain did not open its borders early but 13 other European countries did, so the dynamics are entirely different. http://tinyurl.com/a6k2qqh