Migrants 'same as 2nd-home Brits'
A Liberal Democrat minister says migrant workers from eastern Europe are simply enjoying the same rights as Britons who buy second homes in France.
Home Office Minister Jeremy Browne said he welcomed the opening of Britain's borders to workers from EU countries like Poland, saying it had boosted the UK economy and transformed foreign relations.
In an interview with the New Statesman magazine, he made clear that - in contrast to the Lib Dems' Conservative coalition partners - he was relaxed about the prospect of a new wave when restrictions were lifted in January on workers from Bulgaria and Romania.
"They're only complying with the same rules as British people who live in Spain or have holiday houses in France, or who work in Germany," he said.
Mr Browne admitted he was part of an "unfashionable minority" in believing that allowing the influx of workers from the former Soviet bloc countries had been the right thing to do.
"I don't think there was a mistake. It was transformational in terms of Britain's relationship with countries like Poland," he said.
"It was in our foreign policy interest but, at a much more direct, micro level, there are lots of employers in my constituency and around the country who are full of praise for the contribution that Poles have made to their businesses and the economy more generally."
Mr Browne also made clear his anger that he and other Lib Dem ministers had not been consulted about a controversial mobile billboard campaign by the Home Office, saying: "Go home or face arrest."
"I was not consulted beforehand, neither was Nick Clegg, and that is a serious oversight," he said.