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Conservative Grassroots' letter to PM on Border Controls

30 Dec 2013

The Rt. Hon David Cameron MP

Prime Minister & First Lord of the Treasury

10, Downing Street



27 December 2013

Dear Prime Minister

I am writing to you as the Chairman of Conservative Grassroots - backed by Local Associiation Chairmen and other senior activists - to ask you as a matter of economic necessity to back the amendment to the Immigration Bill, as tabled by the Hon Nigel Mills MP, to extend restrictions on the expected wave of mass immigration from Bulgaria and Romania when border controls are lifted on 1 January 2014.

Until the proposed amendment is passed into law we urge you – as a stop-gap – to exercise the opt-out on immigration matters granted under the Lisbon Treaty and unilaterally extend the border restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania – to prevent a hugely disruptive and destabilising wave of mass immigration from both those countries.

Conservative Grassroots is not opposed to immigration. We welcome immigration as approved by Parliament which is in the national interest and set on the basis of need – where skills are required – but not mass immigration as forced upon us by Brussels.

The Immigration Minster, the Hon. Mike Harper MP, on behalf of the Government’s current perplexing position, has said that the United Kingdom cannot further extend the moratorium and as such the UK is obliged to lift the border restrictions imposed by the last Labour government in 2007 on 1 January 2014.

We respectfully disagree with the Government’s premise that there is no scope or room to extend further the moratorium on further immigration from Bulgaria and Romania. We can argue that by opting out of Schengen we didn’t quite fully sign-up to principle of unrestricted ‘free movement of peoples’. 

A ‘safeguard clause’ written into the Accession Treaty for Bulgaria and Romania allows for the re-imposition of temporary restrictive measures in any Member State if it is “undergoing or foresees serious labour market disturbances”. 

In 2011 Spain invoked the ‘safeguards clause’ and unilaterally imposed restrictions barring entry of further Romanian workers citing ‘exceptional circumstances’ – given its high youth unemployment rates. The European Commission was forced to concede and accept this temporary ban on any further entry by Romanians workers into Spain.

The provisional 7-year transitional arrangements restricting entry into the UK for Bulgarian and Romanian residents were agreed when European Union economies were booming in 2005. Since then most European Union economies have been ravaged by one of the severest recessions since the 1930s and it is only right that the previously agreed time frames be amended to take into account prevailing circumstances and realities.

Long-term UK youth unemployment – at 21% – is the third highest within EU & OECD countries. As such it is only logical for the UK – invoking the Spanish example of ‘exceptional circumstances’ – to unilaterally exercise its opt-out on immigration matters under the Lisbon Treaty and extend the original restrictions to 2018 to allow the UK economy the space and time to reverse the long-term high youth unemployment trend.

You must be aware that this is an untenable political position given the widespread opposition of the British people – from all walks of life including ethnic minorities. It is also an unsustainable economic position in view of the huge pressure already placed on public services at a time when the country is still facing acute challenges within the economy.

The Chancellor and you are well aware that as a country we are still emerging from the worst recession since the 1930s with stagnant wages and a rising cost of living.

We face many unresolved challenges in housing, health, social provision and the job market.  We have an unacceptably high 7.4 per cent unemployment rate with one million young people under-24 and 400,000 working adults over 50 are facing long-term unemployment of 24 months or more.

This is further compounded by the Government’s austerity measures which aim to reduce the size of government headcount by one-third at a time when a sizeable number of immigrants are expected to take up residency and further strain our public services and infrastructure – from schools, housing to hospitals and health care provision – with no added financial support to local authorities.

How are local authorities going to be able to support unrestricted new immigrant individuals and entire families without additional financial support or increased local taxation? The fiscal position is simply untenable, irrational and grossly unfair – and may lead to social unrest.

We urge you to back extended border controls because of the exceptional economic circumstances and to encourage the rest of your Government - including the Liberal Democrats - to back Nigel Mills' amendment. Either Lib-Dems are committed to help Britons get back to work or they are not.

In the face of these acute and long-term economic and social challenges we simply cannot afford to absorb this expected wave of mass immigration from Bulgaria and Romania where income levels are more than 9 times lower than the UK.

We are calling on you, as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party:

i. to Support the amendment to the Immigration Bill as proposed by Nigel Mills MP before 1 January 2014 and

ii to Exercise the opt-out clause on justice, home affairs and immigration granted to UK and Ireland under the Lisbon Treaty and

iii to Unilaterally invoke exceptional circumstances under the Treaty of Accession by Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, as Spain had done, and defer any such entry as envisaged under the safeguard provisions in relation to serious labour market conditions on the basis of high long-term youth unemployment.

As a matter of urgency we urge you to call a special sitting of Parliament and bring forward a vote on Nigel Mills MP’s proposed amendment to the Immigration Bill at the soonest – as time is now of the essence – so that the border controls can be extended before 1st January 2014.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Woollard


Conservative Grassroots

posted by Grassroots Conservatives in News