Government Restricts Benefits for Immigrants Prior to the Accession of 10 New States to the EU after Racist Campaign against Roma in UK Media
28 May 2004
On January 20 and 22, 2004, the Daily Express published issues which apportioned significant space to the predicted "invasion" of "1.6 million gipsies" following the May 2004 accession to the European Union of ten new countries. The January 20 issue included, at page 4 an opinion poll entitled, "Should we let the gipsies invade Britain?" and at page 12, a map of the accession countries with the title "THE GREAT INVASION 2004: Where the gipsies are coming from". The January 22 issue reiterated the same sentiments. The mass migration of Roma from Central and Eastern European countries as predicted by the Daily Express is, at this point in time, baseless and irresponsible - the purpose of the articles appears to be purely to incite alarm and racial hatred in the UK against Roma from the accession countries, an illegal act under international law.
Following the wave of anti-Romani articles in the media, on February 24, the BBC reported that according to the scheme announced a week earlier by the UK government, unemployed migrants are banned from most benefits for at least two years while employed migrants will be illegible for some benefits immediately. British officials insist that the changes do not affect their pledge to fully open their labour market to citizens of the acceding countries but, according to the BBC, stricter tests for housing and financial benefits will make it very difficult for those seeking employment in the UK. Mr Blair was quoted as having stated, "If they (migrants) can't support themselves, they will be put out of the country." (BBC, Daily Express)