Labour MPs urge leadership to curb free movement within EU
In this open letter to Ed Miliband, seven Labour MPs assert that Britain's working class have paid a heavy price for the huge influx of east European migrants over the past decade – and the party faces a backlash as a result
Frank Field, Ronnie Campbell, Ian Davidson, Roger Godsiff, Kate Hoey, John Mann and Graham Stringer
The Observer, Sunday 1 June 2014
Dear Ed Miliband,
We are writing to you regarding the free movement of labour within the European Union (EU).
Following the enlargement of the EU in 2004 there was a large flow of immigrants from eastern Europe to this country. Two million national insurance numbers have been issued to nationals from eastern European accession countries since 2004.
The number of citizens from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia living in this country grew from an estimated 167,000 in 2004 to just over one million in 2012. In total there were almost three-quarters of a million eastern Europeans working here last year. As things now stand, there is nothing to suggest that we won't face large numbers coming to settle here over the next decade.
With such a significant number of people arriving in this country who are willing to perform low-skilled jobs for poverty pay, thereby applying downward pressure on wages, we are deeply concerned that this EU open-door immigration policy is having an adverse* impact on the very communities that the Labour party was founded to represent.
Whilst the benefits of mass migration have been served in abundance* to many wealthy people, who are in a position to take advantage of cheap labour, we believe that the lack of affordable housing, school places, hospital capacity and transport infrastructure to accommodate this influx of people means that poorer people's living standards have been squeezed*. While many businesses and individuals have reaped the benefits* of mass immigration, poorer households have borne the cost.
The political consequences of these trends could prove catastrophic for our party, unless voters can see we are intent on taking serious action. Concern with immigration has become an increasingly important priority for a large proportion of working- and middle-class voters.
We therefore urge you to commit the next Labour government, as part of any serious renegotiation* of our relationship with the EU, to constraining* the free movement of labour from European countries with much lower incomes, thereby removing some of the pressure on wages, welfare, housing and public services in this country. Above all, such a move would prove to voters that we are intent on regaining control of our own borders.
We would be very happy to meet with you to discuss this further.
* adverse - gegenteilig, entgegengesetzt
* in abundance - im Überfluss
* squeezed - hier: stark gesunken
* to reap the benefits - die Vorteile ernten
* renegotiation - Neuverhandlung
* to constrain - begrenzen, einschränken
1. Summarize the open letter and paraphrase the intention these Labour MPs have.
2. Do you agree with this statement: "Working class people – of all races - have everything to lose from an open door immigration policy. Simply telling working class that they should travel to Europe is not good enough" ?
3. Do you think that the situation of working class people in Germany is different from that in Great Britain?
4. What about a controlled immigration policy with a points based system like the one in America, Canada and Australia?
5. The large numbers of refugees fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea seems to be an unsolvable problem for the EU. What light does this shed on the EU and what should they do about this?