Britain, Bulgaria and benefits: the political rhetoric of European (dis)integration

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    Abstract

    This chapter considers the political controversy in Britain over the lifting of restrictions of freedom of movement on European Union (EU) citizens from Bulgaria and Romania in January 2014. The response of the then Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government centred on altering the rules on the payment of welfare benefits to potential new EU immigrants such that they would not be entitled to claim these benefits for 3 months after entry to the United Kingdom. This policy led to a split in the coalition, with the Liberal Democrat leadership claiming that it was a panicked move by the majority Conservative coalition partner, and moreover that it was a blatant attempt to appeal the electorate in an effort to be seen to be doing something to stop the welfare benefit system from being abused by ‘foreigners’. The backdrop to this political fracas centred on the economic contribution of East European immigrants to Britain and the claim and counterclaim over the issues jobs, welfare benefits and services such as English language support in schools. These contentious issues are examined in terms of an analysis of online comments to posted in reaction to a political interview with Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, who claimed that the Conservatives were attempting to placate public disquiet over immigration as a response to the rising popularity of the United Kingdom Independence Party.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNational identity and Europe in times of crisis
    Subtitle of host publicationdoing and undoing Europe
    EditorsChristian Karner, Monika Kopytowska
    Place of PublicationBingley
    PublisherEmerald
    Pages61-82
    Number of pages22
    Edition1
    ISBN (Electronic)9781787145139
    ISBN (Print)9781787145146
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2017

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    James Moir

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    Cite this

    Moir, J. (2017). Britain, Bulgaria and benefits: the political rhetoric of European (dis)integration. In C. Karner, & M. Kopytowska (Eds.), National identity and Europe in times of crisis: doing and undoing Europe (1 ed., pp. 61-82). Emerald. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78714-513-920171004