Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.
Those of you who are regulars on our discussion forum may have noticed that there’s a fairly lively debate going on there about the rising numbers of people from Eastern Europe (migrants, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers – the list of names goes on and on) in the UK over the last few years. The debate mirrors one in the UK that’s been growing ever since the upheavals in the former Yugoslavia – especially Bosnia and Kosovo – in the early 1990s.
But recently it’s taken on a new lease of life with the imminent expansion of the EU from 15 to 25 members on 1 May this year. 75 million new EU citizens – many of them currently living on wages considerably below the EU average – will gain the right to live and work, and claim benefits, anywhere in the EU.
Eventually, at least. Germany – and all other EU member states apart from the UK, Finland and Ireland – has decided to take up the option to ban migrant workers and jobseekers from the new member states for a limited transition period of up to seven years. Now, faced with pressure from the tabloid press (including a campaign from the Daily Express), the British government is considering measures to control any possible mass influx.
Ironically, it seems that the tabloid press’s actions in whipping up fear may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Czech government’s human rights commissioner has reportedly (in The Guardian) said that the Czech media’s re-reporting of Sun articles about Roma plans to move to the UK in large numbers has encouraged more people to do just that. Opinion polls, however, suggest that few would choose the UK as their destination – Germany remains the country of choice for the largest number of would-be migrant workers.
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The UK’s traditionally benefited from migration, both of incomers (legal migrants make up 8% of the UK population but generate 10% of its GDP) and outgoers (after all, if they hadn’t, this site wouldn’t have any purpose!). Many of our readers already live overseas (we’ve had visitors from nearly 170 countries) and many more are planning to do so soon – it sometimes seems as if half the people posting on the forum are waiting to get to Canada!
One famous Briton who may be staying put, though, is Ricky Gervais, co-writer and star of BBC spoof documentary series The Office. He’s been offered several lucrative deals in the States since his recent Golden Globe Award wins for Best Comedy TV Actor and Best TV Comedy, but reportedly has turned down a string of big money deals because he wants to stay in Britain. But he’s denied that he’s turned down an appearance on The Simpsons.
BBC News – Ricky Gervais
Just a couple of suggestions if you have a little time to spare:
LaughLab, a scientific experiment to find the world’s funniest joke, was created by Dr. Richard Wiseman (University of Hertfordshire) in collaboration with the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Click on the link below for a summary of their findings. Interesting stuff!
And now for a topical virtual snack. Click the link below for an interesting piece about Shabana Rehman, a Norwegian immigrant of Pakistani origin, who now has a succesful career as a comedian in Oslo.
Comedy CV: Shabana Rehman
Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:
Till next time…
British Expat Magazine
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
– President Abraham Lincoln
“Unfairly but truthfully, our party has been tagged as being against things. Anti-immigrant, for example. And we’re not a party of anti-immigrants. Quite the opposite. We’re a party that welcomes people.” – George W Bush, Cleveland, July 1, 2000
Kay has been an expat for 25 years. She set up the British Expat website more than 15 years ago, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)