There is no evidence that migration has reduced the quality of healthcare in the UK, nor that migration affects the overall level of crime. So, why are politicians blaming EU citizens for the impact of their austerity policies?

First published in November 2019.

I arrived in the UK in 1997 when I was three years old. My dad worked in the NHS, but a year later, my family had to return to Romania. Meanwhile, Romania had joined the EU in 2007.

When I turned 18, I used my freedom of movement to come to the UK. I met my British partner six years ago and currently I am writing up my PhD thesis, working and campaigning on migrants’ rights.

My story is just one among millions of people who used their freedom of movement to enrich their lives – studying, working, joining their family or simply travelling from place to place.

Like many of you, I read anti-immigration populist rhetoric and xenophobic comments daily.

Last week, it was particularly upsetting to read the disgusting comments made by some politicians, blaming us EU citizens for the impact of their austerity policies.

For example, the man in charge of NHS policy, Health and Social Care Secretary of State Matt Hancock suggested that ‘non-UK residents’ do not pay their ‘fair share’ in the NHS. I say to Mr Hancock that perhaps he would like to let us know which form to fill in to refund our tax and NI contributions...

The Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee report states there is no evidence that migration has reduced the quality of healthcare. There is also no evidence that migration affects the overall level of crime. But some people had enough of experts, so we need to appeal to values as well. Is it fair to do dog-whistle politics on the backs of our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues?

EEA migration in the UK: Final report. / Migration Advisory Committee

This is not anymore about debunking the lies with facts. This is a question of decency and moral responsibility. The many “go back home” comments (and worse) I got don’t come out of nowhere. They are fuelled by politicians who deliberately blame migrants for creating more division in our society.

EU and non-EU citizens need to stand together and use their lived experiences to speak against those destructive narratives. At the end of the day, the current immigration proposals will make life even more unfair for all, with fewer rights for those coming from both EU and non-EU countries, and fewer rights for British citizens who will lose their freedom of movement.

Dog-whistling is not a decent thing to do. It has to stop now.🔷

Written by Alexandra Bulat, Chair of Young Europeans, the3million’s under 30 campaign group.


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[This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 19 November 2019, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Dom Pates. - People’s Vote March. | 23 March 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)