No fear of new migrants: Britons wiser than their politicians

Poll: "Romanians and Bulgarians? We should welcome them to the UK"

Two in three Britons (68%) would welcome Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Britain "if they learn the language, work hard and pay taxes, fit in and be part of the community," according to an Ipsos MORI poll for British Future. The percentage increases to 72% among Britons aged 34-45.

As far as what EU migrants should do to be accepted into British society, the three things that British people say are most important are for them to learn the English language (69%), get a job and pay taxes (64%), and not claim any benefits (48%).

This is the view of a wide majority of Britons. No fear of invasions or social panic. It is a very pragmatic, typically British, approach.

Fear mongering headlines on tabloids etching a dismal picture of the Isles overrun by Eastern European citizens ready to plunder the British economy do not come to us as a surprise. Nonetheless, the evidence suggests more immigration would be a boost, not a drag (The Economist: "Immigration: a fresh headcount").

What is concerning is how political leaders, on all sides of the political spectrum, find it easy to draw upon these populist fears to demagogically attract an electorate that polls proved to be much wiser and realistic than its representatives.

Poverty of ideas, fear of their electoral future and inadequacy in governing global problems is an obvious interpretation to readiness of both Tory and Labour to ride the anti-immigration waves raised by the tabloids. Wouldn't coming up with a sounder immigration policy, more grounded on real data, and not on perceived threats, be more beneficial to all and reveal greater political skills?

Let's see what Britons propose, according to the Ipsos MORI poll.

Britons’ priorities for government action in response to the lifting of restrictions on the movement of EU citizens from Romania and Bulgaria are to restrict the benefits they can claim and enforce the minimum wage.

Six in ten (63%) say they would most support the British Government restricting the benefits that people from other European Union countries can claim, in response to people from Romania and Bulgaria coming to live and work in the UK.  Just under half, 45%, say the minimum wage should be enforced so businesses cannot undercut British workers by paying European workers less.

Around a quarter each would support leaving the EU if it does not change its rules (26%), staying in the EU but trying to change the rules of membership (24%), and managing the impact of immigration within the UK by, for example, giving more support to areas with more immigration (22%).

Indeed, Britons are requesting for some real immigration policy to be drawn up, not for new migrant workers, new taxpayers, to be kicked out. Hello, anybody listening?

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