Should UK leave EU to stop ‘Roma beggars’?

Jon Danzig |

Britain cannot stop foreign beggars, according to The Telegraph

Yes, Britain should end its EU membership to solve the problem of ‘Roma beggars’, according to prominent Tory Eurosceptic MP, Douglas Carswell, reported The Telegraph this weekend.

The newspaper complained that, ‘more than 20 Roma beggars living rough in London’ were given tickets home funded by the taxpayer, but they ‘have already returned.’

Yes, six of the group – ‘almost a third’ – have returned, reported the newspaper, which it claimed represented,  ‘a carousel for career beggars’. 

The Telegraph added that the case, ‘highlights the difficulty that Britain faces in keeping European Union nationals out of the country, even when they come here to beg.’

Mr Carswell, MP, was quoted as saying:

‘The only way we can deal with this is to end our EU membership on the current terms…’

I added this comment to The Telegraph readers section:

‘Roma children are often forced to beg and denied their childhood and education.  It’s illegal to beg on our streets, but behind this can be a more sinister crime, involving human trafficking and modern day slavery. 

‘According to Thames Reach, the charity quoted in the story, most people in London who beg are doing so to support a serious drug habit.  The best response of the public, they advise, is never to give any money to any beggars, that way ending the cycle in which we, the public, are directly connected.

‘So yes, this is a problem, but do we really need to leave the EU to solve it, as proposed by Conservative MP Douglas Carswell?  

‘About two million Brits live, work, study or are retired in other parts of the European Union.  More British people live in Spain than Polish people live in Britain.   The advantages of the EU work both ways.’

A Telegraph Eurosceptic reader responded:

‘Millions of British people live in non-EU countries.  Most Brits living overseas don’t do so to live off benefits.. persue [sic] a life of crime…beg.’

I replied:

‘It’s an anti-EU fabrication that immigrants here who are entitled to benefits take excessive advantage of them.  In February New Society magazine reported that there are ‘fewer than 7,000 Poles claiming the Job Seekers’ Allowance’.   That’s a tiny fraction of the number of Poles now living in the UK and who are, actually, mostly in gainful employment.

Indeed, academic research by a team of leading economists discovered that the ‘A8 immigrants’ – from Poland, Slovakia, Latvia, Hungary, Estonia, Czech Republic, etc –’are about 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, and to live in social housing’.

‘Also, there are many British people claiming benefits in other EU countries.  The advantages of the EU work both ways.’

On my Facebook page, a pro-EU supporter offered some advice:

‘Jon, you are dealing with breathtakingly ignorant and narrow-minded people, who live  stuck in the 1940s. I am afraid that you can’t draw blood from a turnip.’

My response:

‘If that’s the case, we are all lost. If we cannot use the power of persuasion, what’s left? We should speak up because:   

  1. If we say nothing, we persuade no one
  2. If we say something, we may persuade someone
  3. Staying silent means we make their voices loudest or worse, the only voices

Please have the courage of your convictions. Silence is not an option if we believe in democracy and free speech.’

Factual Note:

According to the 2011 census, only 3.3% of Romanians are Roma. However, Roma people represent the biggest ethnic minority in Europe and most Roma are EU citizens.   The EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies called for a 10-year action plan to put an end to the ‘exclusion of Roma people’:

 ‘Many of the estimated 10-12 million Roma in Europe face prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and social exclusion in their daily lives. They are marginalised and live in very poor socio-economic conditions. This is not acceptable in the European Union at the beginning of the 21st century.

‘Member States need to ensure that Roma are not discriminated against but treated like any other EU citizens with equal access to all fundamental rights as enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. In addition, action is needed to break the vicious cycle of poverty moving from one generation to the next.’

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