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26-Apr-2018 13:47

We all know how, in 2004, the Labour government opened the door to immigration from Poland and seven other Eastern European states, while other countries such as Germany and France imposed restrictions.

But it certainly isn’t the case so far as immigration to Britain from other EU countries is concerned.

The Blair government forecast a relatively small annual influx — of between 5,000 and 13,000. Following that gigantic miscalculation, one might have expected a little more caution would be shown at the beginning of 2014 when immigration restrictions from Romania and Bulgaria were lifted by the Coalition government.

With an eye on the cock-up over Poland, prime minister Cameron refused to release official projections. So did a small number of other organisations such as Migration Watch, a think-tank run by a respected former British ambassador.

Its higher figure has proved almost exactly correct.

All this matters because it shows how the preconceptions of our national broadcaster prevented it from telling the truth about an issue which, as the Brexit referendum illuminated, is important to millions of people. We’ll probably have to wait until 2044 under Whitehall’s secretive 30-year rule to know what level of immigration the Government envisaged from Romania and Bulgaria. It was partly because millions of people thought they had been deceived and betrayed by politicians and parts of the media that they voted in June last year to leave the EU.

As late as December 2014, Mark Easton — the supposedly authoritative BBC home editor, who over the years has been relaxed about EU immigration — told Radio 4 listeners there were ‘probably 100,000’ Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain.

Where are all the Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants, asked an item on the BBC’s website at the end of January 2014.In this respect, the Office for National Statistics report on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants offers a fascinating insight.It says that while the average national hourly earnings of UK workers are estimated at £11.30, citizens from these two EU countries receive only £8.33 an hour.This did not prevent many — most notably the BBC — from predicting that anxieties over the number of migrants would turn out to be misplaced. Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics estimated there are 413,000 Romanians and Bulgarians living in the United Kingdom, equivalent to the population of Bristol.Of these, roughly 150,000 were already living in the country before 2014.

Where are all the Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants, asked an item on the BBC’s website at the end of January 2014.In this respect, the Office for National Statistics report on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants offers a fascinating insight.It says that while the average national hourly earnings of UK workers are estimated at £11.30, citizens from these two EU countries receive only £8.33 an hour.This did not prevent many — most notably the BBC — from predicting that anxieties over the number of migrants would turn out to be misplaced. Yesterday, the Office for National Statistics estimated there are 413,000 Romanians and Bulgarians living in the United Kingdom, equivalent to the population of Bristol.Of these, roughly 150,000 were already living in the country before 2014.But every time a business leader belly-aches about a shortage of workers, remember he has an interest in continuing to pay Eastern Europeans less than the home-grown variety.