Monday, May 28, 2012

We won't shut the door on migrants fleeing eurozone, says British Liberal leader

Nick Clegg yesterday denied that Britain is planning to ‘pull up the drawbridge’ to prevent an influx of foreign workers from crisis-hit eurozone nations.

The Deputy Prime Minister hit out at ‘apocalyptic’ warnings that Britain could be hit by a wave of immigrants from Greece and other struggling countries if the euro crisis deepens.

His intervention came after Theresa May disclosed contingency planning was under way to deal with a potential influx of would-be immigrants.   Reports said the Home Secretary was considering using emergency powers to bypass European single market rules and effectively seal the border.

There are fears that Greece in particular could leave the euro and go bankrupt, causing millions of Greeks to lose their jobs and look for work abroad.

But Mr Clegg claimed yesterday she had only been talking about ‘keeping an eye on migration patterns’.  ‘I really do think some of the breathless talk in the media about “Do we pull up the drawbridge to stop hordes of people migrating across Europe?” is both far-fetched, somewhat apocalyptic in tone and deeply unhelpful,’ he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.  ‘We are not there yet,’ he added.

Mr Clegg warned last week that allowing Greece to leave the euro could unleash ‘unpredictable, irrevocable damage’ to the entire European economy.   Yesterday he repeated his call for European leaders to come together to shore up the  single currency.

He insisted his comments were not an attack on Mrs  May, saying it was ‘quite sensible’ for the Home Office  to keep contingency plans under review.

In an interview at the weekend, Mrs May said that ‘work is ongoing’ to deal with large movements of people in the event of the break-up of the single currency, although she did not indicate the exact response that was under consideration.

In normal circumstances the Government’s hands are tied because EU nationals are largely entitled to live and  work anywhere in the single market.  But she said the Government was ‘looking at the trends’ on immigration from struggling European economies.  She said there was no evidence of increased migration at present, but said it was ‘difficult to say how it is going to develop in coming weeks’.

Mrs May suggested that the ‘abuse’ of freedom of movement within the EU more generally was an issue that was under consideration.  She said: ‘Discussions within the EU are much more looking at the immigration issue, the migration issue, as something that needs to be considered and addressed.  Within the EU, in a wider context, people are increasingly recognising the need to prevent the abuse of free movement.’

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said moves to curb immigration from within the EU were ‘fraught with dangers’.  He said: ‘Firstly, the Government has always maintained that they could never do anything about EU migration as it was illegal to do so. 

‘The statement [from Mrs May] is concerning, considering that the Home Office’s record of acting on legal advice has not been brilliant.  ‘Secondly, the Home Secretary is suggesting a short-term fix, whereas the eurozone crisis will be long-term and involve several countries.

‘Finally, she will cause unnecessary panic as people in Greece seek to move to the UK before any new measures are put in place. This risks causing chaos at the borders just before and during the Olympics. ‘The Home Secretary should choose her words and the methods of announcing changes much more carefully in future.’


Furore over allowing  skilled legal immigrants into Australia

It is only uselesss illegal immigrants who must be accepted without question

JULIA Gillard faces a split within her Cabinet after she distanced herself from her Government's decision to allow Gina Rinehart to import 1700 foreign workers.

The move has infuriated Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and his supporters.

They insist he followed standard processes before the decision to permit migrants to work on a major West Australian iron ore project, 70 per cent owned by Mrs Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting.

Ms Gillard told union leaders on Friday she was not comfortable with the deal and had only learned of it when she returned from overseas last Wednesday.

But Mr Bowen's office said it had been in regular contact with Ms Gillard's senior staff, as well as the offices of senior ministers Bill Shorten and Wayne Swan, about the deal.

Other Government sources accused Ms Gillard of trying to blame Mr Bowen and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson, who both backed former prime minister Kevin Rudd in the last leadership challenge, for the decision.

But Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes, who has described the decision as "sheer lunacy", yesterday accused Mr Bowen of accepting an "ambit claim" from Mrs Rinehart without question.

Ms Gillard refused to comment on when she became aware of the deal, despite saying she demanded new conditions just before the announcement on Friday, to ensure it could not be used if there were Australians willing and able to do the work.

This has not been enough to calm anger among the Labor Caucus, with Senator Doug Cameron threatening a fiery debate at tomorrow's meeting.

Amid renewed leadership tensions, chief Government whip Joel Fitzgibbon gave only a vague denial that he had been actively canvassing support for Mr Rudd, tweeting: "no one does more to support the PM and the Government than me!".

Ms Gillard said Mr Fitzgibbon's words "speak for themselves".

But some of her allies said Mr Fitzgibbon had made it clear he no longer supported the Prime Minister after he was overlooked for a promotion.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the tweet "put in flashing neon lights the division ... inside the national Government right now".


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