Britain accused of fuelling lies and hate over immigration

The debate over EU membership in Britain is helping to spread hatred, lies and national resentment, the President of the European Parliament has said.

“Outright lies [are] told” said Martin Schulz. “What makes me sad and angry in all this debate is the undertone of national resentment. People are used as scapegoats.”

He was speaking in London after a meeting with David Cameron as part of the Prime Minister’s attempt to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU ahead of the planned [1b]referendum.

While Schulz did not directly criticise Cameron, “his comments are likely to be interpreted as a stinging rebuke to the British leader,” says Reuters.

The Prime Minister wants to ban new arrivals from claiming benefits for a period of four years in order to reduce immigration and has made it clear that these welfare changes are an “absolute requirement” in the negotiations.

But Schulz said he was witnessing attempts by people in Europe and in Britain to create new barriers between countries. He accused scaremongers of stirring up “a feeling of panic over so-called benefit tourists from Romania and Bulgaria wanting to plunder the social systems of the host countries”.

The anti-immigration movement is continuing to gain ground across the continent. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt yesterday conceded defeat in the country’s election after a surge of support for right-leaning parties.

The centre-right opposition won by a narrow majority, but “the real winner of the night” was the Danish People’s Party, says the Financial Times. The party has promised to tighten the country’s borders and introduce tougher asylum rules – which are already some of the strictest on the continent.

Meanwhile, Hungary has announced plans to fence off its border with Serbia in an attempt to cut off the flow of migrants arriving through the Balkans from the Middle East and Africa, says Reuters. “The EU’s countries seek a solution [to immigration] but Hungary cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

June 23, 2015

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