Criticism of eastern European immigrants by the United Kingdom Independence Party is fuelling violent attacks on Romanians here, the country’s ambassador to the UK has said.
Ion Jinga told the Daily Telegraph newspaper that Romanian doctors in the NHS - there are estimated to be around 2,000 - are now receiving racist comments from the British patients they are treating.
He revealed that a Romanian doctor wrote to him saying: “Now, almost on a daily basis I am asked where I am originally from, and I have to face a racist attitude following my answer.”
Romanians are now being made to “feel guilty of being Romanian in the UK”, the diplomat said.
The UK is due to open its borders fully to Romanians and Bulgarians next year. Ukip and its leader, Nigel Farage, have repeatedly raised concerns about that decision. Mr Farage regularly refers in campaign speeches to the number of Romanians in the UK who are convicted of crimes.
Writing at telegraph.co.uk, Mr Jinga says Ukip used similar rhetoric in the Eastleigh by-election, leading to violence.He said: “When, during the by-election campaign for Eastleigh, the candidate of a political party that expects to win the next European elections using xenophobic slogans linked Romanians with ‘a natural propensity towards crime’, I expressed concern that inflammatory rhetoric could have long term negative consequences and even lead to acts of racially assaults.
“Unfortunately, I was right because soon after, in Brighton, two young Romanian workers were attacked only because they were speaking in a language identified by their aggressors as being 'East European'.”
Nigel Farage, Ukip's leader, rejected the criticism. He told The Telegraph: "I agree with Mr Ambassador - there is a real problem here.
"It seems to me that if there are only 80,000 Romanians in the country that we know of - and yet in London alone there have been 27,500 arrests in five years. There is an issue here but we are pretty careful about this."