Labour in Fresh Immigration Row

Labour in fresh immigration row
Labour faced fresh claims of misleading the public on immigration last night as it emerged almost four times as many EU workers are in the UK than Britons on the Continent.

By Tom Whitehead
The Telegraph (U.K.), May 5, 2010

Official figures suggest fewer than 300,000 Britons are working in the EU compared with just over one million of their European counterparts working here.

It makes a mockery of the balanced migration claims by Gordon Brown and his pledge of British jobs for British workers.

It is also the latest embarrassment to hit the Prime Minister and Labour over the handling of immigration statistics.

Figures from Eurostat, the EU's information service, show that as of autumn 2008 there were 287,600 UK nationals working in other EU countries.

At the same, according to the Office for National Statistics, there were 1,020,000 EU citizens working in the UK,

The EU's figure was presented to Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, by Nigel Farage, of UKIP, during a debate on the BBC Daily Politics show.

Mr Woolas initially questioned why Mr Farage would trust Eurostat figures but when pressed he then appeared to argue there are more than two million British people on the Continent when you look at those who 'live and work' there.

But even that figure would contradict Mr Brown who has claimed a million people have come from Europe but a million Britons have gone the other way.

He has repeatedly used that claim to respond to questions on immigration, including his damaging meeting with Rochdale pensioner Gillian Duffy, who he later accused of being a 'bigoted woman'.

Mr Farage said: 'These figures destroy the argument that we have a mutually beneficial open door with the EU'.

Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, said: 'This Government is determined to mislead the British people about the effects of their immigration policy to the end.

'Its clear that the failure to put transitional controls on when the EU expanded was one of many disastrous decisions theyve taken.

'Ministers are simply in denial about why people are so angry with the chaotic immigration system. Only a Conservative Government would cut the immigration numbers substantially.'

Last month, Mr Brown was rebuked by the UK Statistics Authority for making misleading statements about immigration figures by using non-comparable figures to claim net immigration into Britain had fallen sharply in 2009.

And at the weekend it emerged he has also been accused by the authority of breaking the Whitehall code of conduct by making use of immigration figures which had not yet been released to the public.

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, has also been criticised for claiming an illegal immigrant is removed every six minutes after an analysis by Migrationwatch, a think tank, suggested it was more like one every 22 minutes because the official figures include thousands who are simply turned away at the border.

The Liberal Democrats plans to test their proposals for a regional based immigration policy on Scotland first, it emerged yesterday.

The party has pledged to develop the current points-based system to make it easier for migrants to go to areas where they are most needed and harder elsewhere.

The manifesto only mentioned migrants being directed to where they are needed but Tom Brake, a Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, told the Daily Politics debate: 'We would encourage new migrants to move where they are most needed.

'We would seek to trial this in Scotland and make it more difficult to get a permit in areas which are already overcrowded and public services overstretched.'