Earlier this week I talked to the Daily Echo’s Parliamentary journalist about my views on a renegotiation of our relationship with the EU and why I felt the free movement of people simply must be addressed.
For context: In the interview I said many things. I talked of the Asian community in Southampton who contacted me to say it is unfair (in their opinion) that they have to prove they earn over £18,000 pa before they can bring family to the UK. I talked of the sixth largest French City by population – which is London. I talked of the latest immigration figures which showed the level of Eastern European immigration has fallen and the level of European immigration from other countries, such as Italy, has increased.
I know many Polish and Eastern European people in Southampton and I would understand that my comments taken in isolation could be offensive, but that was not my intention. What I would say though is this. The UK cannot continue with uncontrolled and unlimited immigration. If Eastern European countries had to handle the levels of immigration that we have over the last 12 years, they too would find it challenging.
I know, and you know, that Eastern European and other migrants come to this country to work and provide for their families. I have nothing but admiration for them. But the UK will have to deal with the free movement of people (in my opinion) or our way of life and culture will eventually be changed.
That is not necessarily a bad thing but it is different. People in the UK are nervous about uncontrolled immigration and the pace of change and no one is going to deny that. If we (you may not think so) moderate politicians do not acknowledge the issue and deal with it, then the extremists will continue to grow in number and influence. Their solution will be far less palatable than a change in the free movement of people currently enshrined in EU law.
I did use an example which you may find pejorative, along with many others which never made the article, and if I offended you I apologise, it was not my intention.
That said, people talk endlessly about politicians who won’t say what is on their mind. It looks like I may have a bumpy ride ahead, but I do think it’s better to be honest and straight talking rather than never say anything for fear of offending someone.