Several MPs have previously made remarks very similar to Nigel Farage on immigration from Romania, but have not been called racist by mainstream political parties or the media. Before immigration restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals were lifted at the start of the year, a debate was held in the House of Commons in which several MPs warned of increased numbers migrating from the two countries.
The Irish Times reported at the time that several Conservatives and a Labour MP were critical of the move, voicing concerns that sound very similar to those recently made by Nigel Farage.
Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: “We are importing a wave of crime from Romania and Bulgaria.” He claimed that Romanians are seven times more likely to be arrested in London than a British national.
“Romanians account for more than 11 per cent of all foreign offenders, despite making up, at the moment, just a tiny proportion of residents,” Mr Hollobone added.
Fellow Conservative Nigel Mills demanded that restrictions be continued for another five years, despite this being against EU law.
In terms of welfare, the UK is not allowed to discriminate between locals and foreigners, with benefits awarded solely according to need rather than past contributions.
Commenting on this, Douglas Carswell added: “We have to make a choice between the welfare system put in place by Labour after the war, or the grand project of the European grandees. We can’t have both.”
John Baron also added that although many come to work, the activities of a few could upset the public. He said: “The majority work hard, they don’t come for benefits, they come because wages are so much higher here, but this risks fuelling the feelings of a minority.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz also criticised the government for failing to estimate the number of migrants expected to arrive after restrictions were lifted. “Olympic-style preparations are being prepared, according to the permanent secretary in the home office, while the home secretary says it is business as usual,” he said.
Mr Farage was accused of racism after making several remarks about Romanian immigration over the past few days. As well as saying that immigration from the country was two high, he also stated that seven percent of all crime in the EU was committed by Romanian gangs.
Labour MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbott have called on their party leader, Ed Miliband, to take a tougher line against Nigel Farage and explicitly call him ‘racist’, something the Miliband, and the other main party leaders have so far avoided.