• The Eastern Counties MEP, Stuart Agnew, has condemned Labour MEP Richard Howitt, who also represents the Eastern Counties, for remarks he has made in the European Parliament this week, in which he welcomed Turkish membership of the EU and suggested that it would make the East of England more prosperous.
Responding to a blue card question from UKIP MEP William Dartmouth in which he was asked if he had ever considered the impact on his constituency of Turkish accession to the EU, which would give 90 million Turks “the absolute right to live, work and settle in the UK”, Mr Howitt said: “A young Turkey with a growing skilled work force and a growing business [sic] can improve the prosperity not just for that country but for my country and my constituency.”
Mr Agnew said: “Richard Howitt is completely out of touch with his constituents if he really believes that they would welcome further mass immigration into the Eastern Counties, this time from Turkey, on the basis that it will make them better off! Over 200,000 Eastern Europeans came to the East of England in 2008 and continued to arrive at a rate of 7,000 per month but Mr Howitt wants even more people to come here and claim benefits, even though there is already intense pressure on schools and social housing as well as an epidemic of homelessness.
“Richard should start to consider the impact of immigration on the people he is supposed to represent. After all, he is elected by voters in Billericay, Cambridge and Norwich, not Bodrum, Istanbul and Ankara!
“His remarks were incoherent and demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of the very real concern among his constituents about immigration. He added some bizarre remarks on losing elections, a subject about which he would do well to keep quiet, after Labour became a minority Party in the East of England at the European Elections in 2004, nearly lost Richard’s seat in 2009 and were unceremoniously booted out of office at the last General Election!”