In an interview for Mediafax, British ambassador Martin Harris stated that it is normal for the British government to make sure immigrants will come to work, not to live on welfare.
British ambassador Martin Harris also stated, during the same interview, that the measures against “social tourism” seek to reform the system and are not targeting Romanians. At the same time, Harris confessed that this year he too lost the child benefit he was receiving for having three children, as a result of the British welfare system being reformed, being normal for the British to be preoccupied, in this context of lowering the costs of welfare, for the way in which immigrants benefit from this aid to be fair too.After a report demanded by the British Foreign Ministry on the impact of lifting the temporary labor market restrictions for Romanians was published on Friday, Ambassador Harris stated in the interview for Mediafax that the whole debate on this issue in recent months also led to better familiarity between the people of the two countries. He considers that such debates are “healthy” in democratic countries that have an active press, and his conviction is that the relation between Romania and Great Britain will remain strong and will not be affected on the long term by the perceptions that appeared recently.
“There were a lot of speculations about what will happen if temporary restrictions are lifted at the end of this year. We wanted to have an analysis from researchers. So we hired a group of social researchers from Great Britain, Romania and Bulgaria, that would analyze the existing aspects and would come up with a conclusion. First of all, I would like to say that I did not ask them to come up with a prediction of the number and they clearly mentioned in the study why it isn’t possible for this prediction to be made,” Harris stated.The British ambassador added that he hopes people will find the report useful because it gives a scientific perspective on the probable impact. “Like I said, it states that predictions cannot be made concerning the number of immigrants and there is no point in making such estimates. But I believe that in what concerns the British government’s policies the study brings a contribution to the efforts of managing this phenomenon as best as possible, to have a good basis of analysis and to answer our legal obligations and the concern that some people have.”Asked what he thinks about one of the conclusions of the report, according to which the Romanians that will go to Great Britain will generally be youngsters willing to work, Harris answered that he does not believe this conclusion contradicts the measures announced by Premier Cameron, “because he referred to measures that do not concern Romanians and Bulgarians but the general aspect, namely the immigrants’ access to our welfare system, irrespective of whether they are EU or non-EU citizens.”