More than two-thirds of Britons say that Romanians and Bulgarians who work hard and pay taxes, speak English and fit in to the community should be welcomed to Britain, according to an Ipsos MORI poll for British Future, reported in The Observer newspaper.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said:
“I think the findings show that Romanian and Bulgarian migrants coming to work and play by the rules are welcomed. They also suggest that coming to work, and not claiming before they’ve paid in, seem more important to people than rewriting the free movement rules or getting out of Europe, though both are legitimate long-term debates.”
The poll questions explored what people think are the most important steps that migrants themselves and the UK government can take to try to make migration work in practice.
British Future’s recent report ‘EU migration from Romania and Bulgaria: What do the public think’ offers a detailed account of what people think about the extension of free movement to Romania and Bulgaria, about the experience of Polish migration after 2004, and about the broader questions of Britain’s membership of the EU. The report drew on a nationally representative poll conducted by ICM, and deliberative research in Southampton, Bolton and Reading. The report can be read in full (PDF file) here.
The new Ipsos MORI polling formed part of the British Future and The Observer ‘State of the Nation 2014’ poll, which will be published in January. Ipsos MORI polled a representative sample of 2,244 people, aged 16 to 75. For the final question, half of the poll sample (1,132 people) were asked about Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Britain and half of the poll sample (1,132 people) were asked a similar question about immigrants coming to Britain. This split-sample experiment offers an insight into how far perceptions of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants are more or less similar to those held about immigrants generally.
These were the results of the questions asked by Ipsos MORI about immigration from Romania and Bulgaria:
As you may know, from 1 January 2014, people from Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to live and work in the UK, as restrictions are lifted across the European Union on the movement of citizens from those countries. Which two or three of the following, if any, would you most support the British government doing in response to people from Romania and Bulgaria coming to live and work in the UK?
Restrict the benefits that people from other European countries can claim: 63%
Enforce the minimum wage so businesses cannot undercut British workers by paying European workers less than the minimum wage: 48%
Leave the European Union if it does not change its rules allowing people to come to live in the UK: 26%
Stay in the European Union but try to change the rules of our membership to restrict the free movement of people into the UK: 24%
Manage the impact of immigration within the UK – for example, by giving more support to areas with the highest levels of immigration: 22%
Give help and advice to people coming to live in the UK so that they can integrate into society: 18%
Should not do anything: 2%
Don’t know: 9%
Which two or three of the following, if any, do you think are most important for migrants from other European countries to do to be accepted into British society?
Learn the English language: 69%
Get a job and pay taxes: 64%
Not claim any benefits: 48%
Spend money in Britain and not send it home: 29%
Make friends from outside their community: 20%
Celebrate British customs like Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday: 4%
Support England/Wales/Scotland and Great Britain in sporting events: 1%
Nothing – because they shouldn’t have to do anything special: 2%
Nothing – because they will never be accepted: 2%
Don’t know: 6%
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Britain have got to learn the language, work hard and pay taxes, fit in and be part of the community. If they do that, we should welcome them to the UK
Neither agree nor disagree: 15%
Don’t know: 5%
Net agreement: + 55
This approach to immigration was supported by voters across the political spectrum. Ukip supporters (64% to 19%, net +44%) were less strongly supportive than Conservative (76% to 12%, net +64%), Liberal Democrat (74% to 15%, net + 59%) and Labour (69% to 11%, net +58%) supporters.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Immigrants coming to Britain have got to learn the language, work hard and pay taxes, fit in and be part of the community. If they do that, we should welcome them to the UK
Neither agree nor disagree: 14%
Don’t know: 4%
Net agreement: +62
Again, there was strong support across the political spectrum, with Conservative (82% to 8%, net +74%), Liberal Democrat (79% to 8%, net + 72%) and Labour (75% to 8%, net +67%) voters ahead of Ukip supporters (69% to 14%, net +55%).
The full demographic breakdown of these poll findings are published on the Ipsos MORI website.