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Stephen Phillips MP: Bold and decisive action on immigration is the only way forward

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: December 05, 2013

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Everywhere I go, whether it is the pub, events, Sleaford market or just around to friends for a cup of tea, I love to hear what is on everyone's mind.

I don't want to become an MP absorbed by the Westminster bubble with no real understanding of what local people think – an MP who is detached from the views of their constituents is simply not doing their job properly.

One issue that has come up recently, and is certain to come up more and more often, is immigration and the pending entry of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals into the UK once transitional controls expire next year.

As regular readers know, as well as those who correspond with me about all manner of issues, I am not the finger-pointing fire-and-brimstone kind of politician, but on this issue the last government's policy of mass uncontrolled immigration has caused a lot of trouble and concern among communities all over Britain.

They simply did not seem to realise that immigration is not a matter that can be brushed under the carpet. While many newcomers bring with them important skills, we must ensure those who settle here can support themselves and do not place unnecessary strain on our public services.

When Labour took the disastrous decision in 2004 to be the only European economy not to place transitional controls on Eastern European migrants coming to the UK, the consequences on local communities were substantially underestimated.

Their national policy of massive immigration was not matched with the required funds for public services, and the arrival of thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians will not ease the pressure on our resources.

This is why I have signed an amendment to the Immigration Bill calling for the Government to defy the European Courts by extending restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals coming to the UK.

I believe fears over any repercussions emanating from the European Courts are over exaggerated and the slow pace of Brussels means any action followed by an inevitably long case would give our communities and our public services a welcome reprieve.

The temporary blocking of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria is usually presented by opponents as being anti-immigrant.

On the contrary; immigration has in the past brought real benefits to the country.

However, uncontrolled migration from Eastern European countries has not necessarily had the same effect, causing real concerns and hostility within many of our communities.

The Prime Minister is advocating an extension to the period that EU migrants need to spend in the UK before they can tap into our generous welfare system.

We may find that bold, decisive action like this would empower other member states who have similar concerns about freedom of movement to follow the UK's lead. If the EU don't like it, then they know what they can do...

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