MP: ‘I share your concerns on new EU arrivals...and back tougher benefits rules for them’

Mark Simmonds
Mark Simmonds
Share this article

Boston’s MP says he is concerned about the possible impact of people arriving in the UK from Romania and Bulgaria when the countries join the EU in January.

Mark Simmonds, a junior foreign office minister, said the impact of one million people from central and Eastern Europe coming to Britain since 2004 has placed ‘huge pressure on places like Lincolnshire’.

He said: “From New Years’ Day, people from Romania and Bulgaria will have the same right to work in the UK as other EU citizens. Lots of people have deep concerns about the impact this could have on their communities. That includes me.

“Everyone in Britain benefits from the fact we can work in European countries if we want to, but things have gone wrong. Since 2004, when a string of new countries joined the EU, we have seen the biggest movement of people around Europe outside wartime.

“One million people from central and eastern Europe are now living here in Britain – placing huge pressure on places like Lincolnshire.

“Labour did nothing to deal with the problem. They could have stopped people from new EU countries from coming here for seven years. But – almost alone in Europe – Labour refused.

“That was the moment to take tough decisions – but the Labour government ducked these questions. That is why this government extended controls on immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania from five to the maximum seven years.”

He told The Standard he does not blame people for wanting to come to the country for jobs but says he wants to encourage the vacancies to be filled by jobseekers from this country.

He also vowed: “We are changing the rules so that no one can come to this country and expect to get benefits. We won’t pay them for the first six months and will stop paying them after another six months unless they can prove there’s a real chance of getting a job.

“We are also toughening up the tests which migrants who want to claim benefits must undergo and stopping newly arrived EU jobseekers from claiming housing benefit.

“If people are not here to work – if they are begging or sleeping rough – they will be deported and stopped from coming back unless they have a proper reason to be here, like a job.”