The Home Secretary is in troubles. Worse, Britain is in crisis. And this time it is not the Muslims giving him a headache. When John Reid met his European counterparts to discuss anti-terrorism measures Germany, France, Spain and Italy had been joined by Poland, enlarging the original G5 group of leading European nations to a newly named G6, currently chaired by the UK. Poland is becoming a major player in Europe and is doing so literally at the expense of the Britain.
One of the home secretary's major concerns is immigration. During the talks the topic of illegal immigration was on the agenda, but it is legal immigration from Eastern Europe which has proven to be a much bigger problem. Hence, the British government wants to bring in measures to restrict the incoming flow of skilled and unskilled workers from the new EU accession countries Romania and Bulgaria. This, however, now looks increasingly like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Estimates for the economic migrants who have come to Britain from Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the countries who joined the European Union in 2004 and thus gained access to European labour markets, range from 300,000 to 600,000. This is the largest wave of immigration Britain has ever seen, prompting the Daily Mail to claim while ago that there are now more Poles in Britain than in Warsaw.
All these new arrivals are entirely legal. They may annoy locals who find that Poles willing to work for low wages are pricing them out of a job and are making housing and other resources scarce, but unlike the Muslims who timidly allow themselves to be derided and lectured to by the home secretary, the Poles will simply ignore him. They are here by right, they are Europeans, and they can't even be asked to learn English. Meanwhile, they are entitled to the full range of services on offer to residents in Britain, including the provision of translators to help them access those services.
The Polish influx dwarfs the alleged problem of non-genuine asylum seekers, and it is likely that both this issue and that of Islamic terrorism are the focus of the British government by way diverting public attention and anger away from the real threat of Britain becoming exploited by its distant European neighbours to the perceived threat of fifth column Muslims within her midst. It has only been two years since Polish is heard at every street corner in Britain. As the years go by, Brits might reminisce about the good old times when Muslim immigrants from Commonwealth countries did mainly as they were told and the occasional conversation in Urdu, Bengali or Punjabi might sound like music to their ears.