Alex Massie Alex Massie

The government’s attitude to Romania and Bulgaria is contemptible – Spectator Blogs

Pity the staff at the British embassy in Bucharest. Only last month they were cheerfully banging the drum for Great Britain, telling Romanians what a swell country this rain-soaked archipelago is. You see:

The GREAT campaign invites the world to take a fresh look at the UK, and is designed to promote Britain as one of the very best places to visit, live, work, study, invest and do business.

Oh dear. Time to reverse ferret.

Brother Forsyth reports that the government is so spooked by the appalling thought that plucky Romanians and enterprising Bulgars might think the United Kingdom a land of opportunity that they are considering a new advertising campaign targeting the EU’s newest members: Britain is crap. Don’t come here.

Evidently, the Tories and the Labour party are in a race to see who can pander to the lowest brand of nativist sentiment. This is a dismal prospect and one that, in a better world, might be thought unworthy of either party. James reports that the government is exploring every means available by which it can limit the rights of Romanians and Bulgars to come and work in the UK. Labour, apparently, wants to ‘bar recruitment agencies from hiring workers from Romania and Bulgaria.

There are several reasons why this is contemptible. First, there is the simple principle of equity. If we accept – nay, demand – that Britons should be able to work in any of the EU’s 27 member states then fairness demands those rights be available to the citizens of all countries, not just the wealthiest, most fortunate few.

Moreover, it makes no sense for the Prime Minister to call for deepening, expanding and strengthening the single market (about which he is quite correct) while also seeking to install protectionist policies designed to impede the working of the single labour market.

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