Ever heard of a country which deliberately wants to trash its image abroad? Now you have.
The British Government is reportedly planning an unremittingly negative campaign portraying Britain as a country where it always rains, jobs are scarce and public services are bursting at the seams. It is to be aimed at Bulgarians and Romanians who — starting next January — will have an automatic right to come and settle in Britain as their countries become full members of the European Union.
The idea is to discourage them from coming to the UK amid fears that the country would be “swamped” with new immigrants at a time when Prime Minister David Cameron is trying desperately hard to reduce immigration to appease his Conservative Party’s anti-immigration lobby.
The right-wing media is buzzing with scare stories about how “hundreds of thousands” of desperate Bulgarians and Romanians will land up here putting “intolerable” pressure on jobs, housing and public services. It is claimed that some four lakh Poles “flocked” to Britain when it opened its borders to Poland in 2004.
One report quoted a minister as saying that a negative campaign would “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold”. Downing Street confirmed it was looking at “options” but said: “We are not commenting on the specific things mentioned.”
Keith Vaz, Labour MP, said the idea bordered on the “farcical”. To put it mildly.