Monday, 1 January 2007

Welcome to Europe; don't come here

Two stories in the news struck me particularly: the accession of two new countries to the EU and Government plans to change the legal age of smoking.

I doubt I am alone in being angered by the government’s decision to limit the number of EU citizens from Romania and Bulgaria entering the UK. As with the 2004 accession countries, the new entrants should enjoy the same free movement of goods, services, capital and labour that the older members enjoy. What is more, anyone who wants to work hard, pay taxes and obey the law should be welcome in our country.

Whether one believes Mr. Brown has been masterful or fortunate in his tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the decision not to follow most of our European neighbours in restricting the free flow of labour from the 2004 accession countries was a masterstroke. It has been estimated that Britain has enjoyed a boost of 0.5 per cent of GDP over and above the growth that would accrue simply from a larger population: in other words, our society is £5 billion richer. In Labour’s high-tax society, that means our government is £2 billion richer. That buys a lot of teachers.

Labour’s failure to repeat this trick and gain another one-off dividend by admitting the hard-working taxpayers rejected by our protectionist neighbours is a sign of their weakness. Rather than explain to the electorate why everybody benefits from economic migration, Labour has preferred to bow to ignorance and pander to fear. As a result we have a policy that insults the new members and demeans the old.

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