London is one of the most visited places in the world.
It is also host to a melting pot of people and cultures, which has changed the landscape of this historical city over the last half century. But at Westminster, there is a growing call to put this melting pot on the back burner or, better yet, to turn the stove off. The reason? Britain’s generous system of social and health benefits is at a breaking point. British prime minister David Cameron:
“What we can do is make sure that those who come here from the EU or from further afield do so for the right reasons, that they come here because they want to contribute to our country, not because they’re drawn by the attractiveness of our benefit system or by the opportunity to use our public services.”
Cameron has vowed to reduce immigration, which had mushroomed under his Labour predecessors. But like its EU counterparts, Britain worries it will face a new wave of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria when restrictions on freedom of movement will be lifted next January.
Unable to stop what is a fundamental EU right, the government is said to have come up with a new approach: a negative campaign to discourage immigrants from coming here. And, of course, the media have had a field day. From Britain’s bad weather to inequalities and long queues at customs, the message is this: we can’t stop you from coming but Great Britain is just not as “great” as you think.
British humour aside, many warn the problem is serious. Opinion polls reveal that some 70% of British people would like to see a reduction in immigration. And a growing number of Britons are now voting UKIP – the far-right, anti-immigrant, anti-European party has now become the country’s third largest according to polls.
Join us this week in Reporter for a look at how Britain may no longer be the El Dorado many Eastern European believe it to be.