The full exchange with Sajjad Karim
Thank you for your message.
It only reinforces my feeling that you are a great person, only forced, on this issue, to defend the un-defendable. Thank you for your personal gestures against discrimination of EU nationals, wherever they come from.
That said, I am not sure that the action of the conservatives is so ‘neutral’ with regard to Romanians and Bulgarians.
Just an example, from an article in The Telegraph entitled ‘Britan must keep Romanian and Bulgarian restrictions’ published on 28 December 2013, link below, showing clearly the trend in the Conservative Party is to point fingers at some nationalities:
More than 70 Tory rebels have called on David Cameron to ban migrants from both countries coming to Britain until at least 2019 amid concerns over the pressure they will put on the NHS, the jobs market and the welfare state.
The Conservatives are acutely aware that their success in limiting the number of Romanian and Bulgarian benefit tourists will be critical to their prospects in the General Election in 2015.
Nigel Mills, a Conservative MP leading calls for greater restrictions, warned that the failure to act could put the Tories in breach of their pledge to reduce net migration to ‘tens of thousands’.
He said: “We have a manifesto promise to get immigration down to tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands. By the end of this Parliament we need to be meeting that promise.
“An issue like this one makes that much harder to achieve, it makes it harder to show that we have achieved that promise. Immigration is still the number one thing in people’s minds. The response to the poll shows how strong the case is and how worried people are.
“At a time when the economy is still recovering people are worried about their own jobs, they are worried about schools and hospitals. It’s no surprise that people don’t want to risk a large number of people not turning up again.”
In response to the growing concerns, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has floated plans for an annual 75,000 cap on the number of EU migrants.
The suggestion increased Coalition tensions, with Vince Cable, the Lib Dem Business Secretary, comparing the Conservative “rhetoric” on immigration to Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech.
Finally, what is striking in your message is basically a clear admission of the fact that the Tories are actually keen on altering freedom of movement rules throughout the EU! This is amazing in itself!
However, having quite good knowledge of proposals being floated by London, I know that even if they appear to apply to everyone, they are nevertheless meant to target either some countries, or some categories of people (the low skilled). In other words, you want our doctors, but not our workers, you want them young and hyper-qualified, to pay and not benefit, that’s a quite a deal! I’m afraid this is not the real world.
Thank you for your email.
During my address to your Group, and in an email I sent subsequently after my address, I spoke of the letter I had published in the Financial Times where I criticise the ‘mass hysteria’ surrounding immigration into the UK from Romania and Bulgaria.
For your perusal, I have included the letter again here: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/ab957a50-7d32-11e3-a579-00144feabdc0.html#axzz35Y5XwZzG
You may also be interested in this Huffington Post article written by Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, at an event in my constituency where I said: “I apologise for what the UKIP said about Romanians. It was disserving both the UK and Romania. It was something one never does to friends and Romania is a long standing friend of the UK”.
The Conservative party thinks it is important to address and reform freedom of movement for all of the EU, not just parts of it. That is why all proposals which the party has made are universal to all EU citizens and not citizens from certain EU countries.
The very clear difference between UKIP and the Conservatives is that rather than trying to attribute blame and point the finger at certain nationalities, the Conservatives are putting forward long term sensible proposals that apply to everyone from all across the EU.
I myself have been not just reactive, but proactive. I have been pressing for a direct flight between my constituency and Romania, as well as launching the Romania 2018 Gateway project, which aims to build bilateral trade links between our two countries.
Thank you for your message congratulating me on my election to the European Parliament and asking for my vote in your bid to become President of the European Parliament. You say that Europe and EU institutions need to ‘show unity’, ‘demonstrate a clear vision’ and that we ‘cannot rely on old approaches that have turned away citizens from the European project’. Interestingly, you also want us to ‘seek a lasting re-engagement with the people whom we represent’. Last but not least, you also seem to urge a general distancing from ‘party machines’.
You have been elected an MEP once more as a candidate of the British Conservative Party, of which you have been (again) a member since 2007. The Conservative Party has unfortunately during the past years in government chosen to, paraphrasing Nigel Farage, play on UKIP’s pitch. That included ideas such as extending the ban on Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the UK labour market to 2018, put forward by dozens of Conservative backbenchers late last year and resumed earlier this year. Or the continuous search for a way to block or limit migration from within the EU, by means of caps, quotas or wealth thresholds (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/10540590/Britain-must-keep-Romanian-and-Bulgarian-restrictions.html). All that, when there is clear evidence that immigration has brought undoubted net benefits to the UK, when the open UK economy, and British nationals take full advantage of the single market in all its dimensions, including by living, working, retiring and benefiting from welfare states elsewhere in Europe. But worse than all, you, the Conservatives have if not directly contributed then definitely not opposed an insulting atmosphere in the UK towards Romanians, as well as towards Bulgarians, Poles, and other EU nationals. Stereotypes, gross generalisations, simply untrue facts and figures, have roamed freely, while, for example, 2,200 ‘ready-made’ Romanian doctors, whose training was paid by those poor Romanians back home, form 0.8% of your NHS doctors (http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/register/search_stats.asp).
Rather than leading by addressing people’s fears and concerns and making use of the TRUTH in the process, and calling on the great common sense of most British people, you, as a party, have chosen to surf on those fears, and profit politically from them, in what has also clearly proven the wrong strategy, given UKIP’s victory in the EP elections. Many of my compatriots living in the UK, as honest hard working people now feel they have become the object of insidious and sometimes overt social discrimination (http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/24/romanian-bulgarian-nhs-workers-hostility-patients-lifting-restrictions). That hurts.
I have been sent to the European Parliament by the votes of Romanian citizens. I feel your party has not treated them fairly, nor Bulgarians, nor Poles. My vote in the European Parliament, that you are now asking for, is stemming from their vote in the election: that is my ‘lasting engagement with the people I represent’, so it is out of the question that you, as a Conservative candidate, could have my vote. I am not sure whether these realities would prompt you to distance yourself from your own ‘party machine’ or whether you see the painful immigration rhetoric at home as conducive to some show of ‘unity’ or ‘clear vision’.
Referring strictly to you now, I have to say that I greatly admire your work as an MEP on human rights, trade and reducing red tape, and I hugely respect you for having been the first British Muslim to have become an MEP. I look forward to working with you on any issue, but I cannot vote for you in a highly representative role.
To conclude, I agree with you that ‘ít’s time’. It’s time to reinvent the mainstream of politics, it’s time for more authenticity, truth, empathy, rather than tapping cheaply into the reservoir of social anxiety for political purpose. Britain deserves politicians who can build on its strengths to reinvent Britishness at this difficult time, rather than thriving on nurturing its fears.
Sorin Moisa MEP
May I congratulate you again on your election to the European Parliament. I very much look forward to working with you during the upcoming Parliamentary term, which promises to be an exciting and challenging period in the history of the European Parliament.
As you are aware, I am writing to you regarding the upcoming elections and my candidacy for the post of President of the European Parliament.
I come to this campaign for President as an experienced Parliamentarian with a record for working together with politicians from all backgrounds. I believe now more than ever that Europe and the EU institutions need to show unity, and demonstrate a clear vision and that we cannot rely on the old approaches that have turned away citizens from the European project and choose to have “business as usual”.
The slogan for my campaign is “Yes it’s time”. It is about seizing an opportunity: a chance to show that the EU can change; that it can bring together the diverse range of political opinions and personal experiences as a strength of this Parliament, and that, above all, we can unite behind a candidate for President who will believe in the rights of all MEPs to represent their citizens, rather than blindly following our party machines.
As a new Member elected for the 2014 term, I hope you will share my vision for a change in the way in which the EU operates and join me to seek a lasting re-engagement with the people whom we represent. Our Parliament cannot be stuck in the past and I am prepared to listen to concerns from all in order to improve the Parliament as a robust, democratic and inclusive institution which is capable of change.
I hope that you will consider voting for me on 1 July in Strasbourg. If there is any issue you would like to discuss with me directly, please do get in touch. My office door remains open!
Sajjad H Karim LLB (Hons) MEP
Legal Affairs Spokesperson
European Conservatives and Reformists
Publicat de Sorin Moisă