The conservative ECR group proposed that Sajjad Karim become the next European Parliament President. Karim has written letters to MEPs, asking for their support. Romanian MEP Sorin Moisa replied to his letter, reminding the Conservative legislator of the negative campaign that his party has led against Bulgarian and Romanian migrant workers.
Thank you for your message congratulating me on my election to the European Parliament and asking for my vote in your bid to become President of the European Parliament. You say that Europe and EU institutions need to ‘show unity’, ‘demonstrate a clear vision’ and that we ‘cannot rely on old approaches that have turned away citizens from the European project’. Interestingly, you also want us to ‘seek a lasting re-engagement with the people whom we represent’. Last but not least, you also seem to urge a general distancing from ‘party machines’.
You have been elected an MEP once more as a candidate of the British Conservative Party, of which you have been (again) a member since 2007. The Conservative Party has unfortunately, in its recent years in government, chosen to, paraphrasing Nigel Farage, play on UKIP’s pitch. That included ideas such as extending the ban on Romanian and Bulgarian workers on the UK labour market to 2018, put forward by dozens of Conservative backbenchers late last year, and resumed earlier this year. Or the continuous search for a way to block or limit migration from within the EU, by means of caps, quotas or wealth thresholds.
All that, when there is clear evidence that immigration has brought undoubted net benefits to the UK, when the open British economy, and UK nationals take full advantage of the single market in all its dimensions, including by living, working, retiring and benefiting from welfare states elsewhere in Europe. But worse than all, you, the Conservatives have if not directly contributed, then definitely not opposed an insulting atmosphere in the UK towards Romanians, as well as towards Bulgarians, Poles, and other EU nationals. Stereotypes, gross generalisations, simply untrue facts and figures, have roamed freely, while, for example, 2,200 ‘readymade’ Romanian doctors, whose training was paid by those poor Romanians back home, form 0.8% of your NHS doctors.
Rather than leading by addressing people’s fears and concerns and making use of the TRUTH in the process, and calling on the great common sense of most British people, you, as a party, have chosen to surf on those fears, and profit politically from them, in what has also clearly proven the wrong strategy, given UKIP’s victory in the EP elections. Many of my compatriots living in the UK, as honest hard-working people now feel they have become the object of insidious and sometimes overt social discrimination. That hurts.
I have been sent to the European Parliament by the votes of Romanian citizens. I feel your party has not treated them fairly, nor Bulgarians, nor Poles. My vote in the European Parliament, that you are now asking for, is stemming from their vote in the election: that is my ‘lasting engagement with the people I represent’, so it is out of the question that you, as a Conservative candidate, could have my vote. I am not sure whether these realities would prompt you to distance yourself from your own ‘party machine’ or whether you see the painful immigration rhetoric at home as conducive to some show of ‘unity’ or ‘clear vision’.
Referring strictly to you now, I have to say that I greatly admire your work as an MEP on human rights, trade and reducing red tape, and I hugely respect you for having been the first British Muslim to have become an MEP. I look forward to working with you on any issue, but I cannot vote for you in a highly representative role.
To conclude, I agree with you that “ít’s time”. It’s time to reinvent the mainstream of politics, it’s time for more authenticity, truth, and empathy, rather than tapping cheaply into the reservoir of social anxiety for political purposes. Britain deserves politicians who can build on its strengths to reinvent Britishness at this difficult time, rather than thriving on and nurturing its fears.
Sorin Moisa MEP
Sajjad Karim signaled to EurActiv that he responded to the Open Letter by Sorin Moisa. Read his reaction here:
During my address to your Group, and in an email I sent subsequently after my address, I spoke of the letter I had published in the Financial Times where I criticise the 'mass hysteria' surrounding immigration into the UK from Romania and Bulgaria.
For your perusal, I have included the letter again here.
You may also be interested in this Huffington Post article written by Romanian Ambassador to the UK, Dr Ion Jinga, at an event in my constituency where I said: "I apologise for what the UKIP said about Romanians. It was disserving both the UK and Romania. It was something one never does to friends and Romania is a long standing friend of the UK".
The Conservative party thinks it is important to address and reform freedom of movement for all of the EU, not just parts of it. That is why all proposals which the party has made are universal to all EU citizens and not citizens from certain EU countries.
The very clear difference between UKIP and the Conservatives is that rather than trying to attribute blame and point the finger at certain nationalities, the Conservatives are putting forward long term sensible proposals that apply to everyone from all across the EU.
I myself have been not just reactive, but proactive. I have been pressing for a direct flight between my constituency and Romania, as well as launching the Romania 2018 Gateway project, which aims to build bilateral trade links between our two countries.
- EurActiv Romania: Draga Saj