Newsnight has made a bold attempt at actually commissioning some polling to try and shed some light on whether there will be substantial immigration to Britain from Bulgaria and Romania once restrictions are lifted at the end of this year, commissioning polls from Vitosha in Bulgaria and Gallup in Romania to find out what proportion of Bulgarian and Romanian people actually are likely to move to Britain.

Let’s start with the Bulgarian survey. 37% of Bulgarians said that in the last 5 years they had considered moving to live and work abroad. “Consider” is a fairly low bar to begin with though, does sitting back and pondering whether it would be quite nice to live in the south of France count as “considering moving to live abroad”, or does it require serious consideration? To put this in context, in 2012 YouGov found 6% of British people are actively considering moving abroad and 42% would seriously consider doing so. Have half the British population actually upped sticks and left? Of course not, for most of those people it was an idle whim or a pipe dream. No doubt it is the same for most of those Romanians and Bulgarians surveyed.

To try and set the bar a bit higher, therefore, Vitosha and Gallup asked people whether they had any actual plans to move aboard, 31% said they intended to go and work abroad in either 2013 or 2014. 19% said they are looking for work abroad, 15% they have actually started to prepare plans to work abroad.

The next consideration is whether those people are looking to move to Britain – there are, after all, several other countries in the EU! Asked where they are planning to go, just under of third of those intending to go to seek work abroad in 2013 or 2014 said Britain (it looks as though they could say more than one place) – equating to 9% of the total sample.

This is still largely just measuring aspiration though, so the poll then asked if they have made any concrete preparations for the move, 52% said they had, 47% had not (in terms of what this meant, a majority said they made been in contact with someone working in Britain, half said they had looked for a job there through a recruiting agency, 16% that they’d looked for somewhere to live). What it boils down to is that just under 3% of Bulgarians say they have looked for a job in the UK through a recruitment agency, just over 1% without.

The working age population of Bulgaria is just under 5 million, so in the unlikely event that all those Bulgarians who have enquired about job opportunities in Britain find one (and the majority of respondents said they were only interested in moving if there was a firm job offer, hardly anyone said they were planning on moving speculatively), it would equate to something under 200,000 Bulgarians.

The Romanian survey was structured in much the same way, though there was less interest there in moving to the UK (the most popular destinations for would-be Romanian emmigrants were Italy and Germany) and those that did mention the UK as their favoured location were less likely to have actually made any concrete plans. Only just over 1% of Romanians had made any attempt to enquire about job opportunities in the UK. The working age population of Romania is about 15 million, so in the equally unlikely event that all those Romanians who have enquired about job opportunities in Britain found one, it would equate to something under 150,000 Romanians moving to the UK.

I would still urge a lot of caution with even these figures. The margin of error on a normal poll of 1000 is plus or minus 3%, so one should hardly read too much into figures of about 4% and about 1%. Equally people will naturally overestimate their likelihood of taking major life changing decisions – it is far easier to ring up a recruitment agency and ask if they have any jobs going in Britain than it is to actually uproot your life and move to a foreign country, far easier to look for a job than it is to find one. What we can say with some certainly is that bonkers claims about half the entire population of Bulgaria and Romania moving to the UK are, indeed, still bonkers.

261 Responses to “Newsnight polls of Bulgaria and Romania”

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  1. Cupboards?? Luxury!! In my day we used to have to sleep in a small tool drawer in the shed and [snip]

  2. AW

    “what awful nasty things George Osborne has done.”


    I think he’s great myself Anthony.

  3. @ PAULCROFT………..I suspect LIZH is in the land of mod.

  4. ken – D’you mean the land of nod?? Surely Anthony doesn’t moderate ladies??

    Anyway what did she do wrong? She even said she liked YOU!!!!

  5. Changing the subject, the ole newsnight poll was jolly good.

    Also, I have been on a course of B12 injections and can thoroughly recommend them. Walked the pups three times today and practised for about five hours.

  6. @ PAULCROFT………No Paul, I meant mod., I think the charming LIZH, and I can only admire her taste, must’ve crossed the line in her alcohol fueled race to intellectual excellence.

  7. @Ken,

    I like your sense of humour even though you are a Tory.

  8. New thread (cos Anthony is sick to death of this one?)

  9. RAF

    The Lab VI fall (such as it is) appears to have started back in mid-Feb. back then, the 5-poll rolling average was about 43 for Lab. Currently it’s about 40. I don’t recall anything horrendous happening to Lab back then, but I do have a vague recollection of a string of undisastrous economic news. Could be that, compounded by the more recent issues that you mention.

    As for the Thatcher effect, there’s no proof of causality, but there is a strong correlation between the media carpet bombing campaign a couple of weeks ago (The DT headline “I Vow to Thee My Country” on the day the funeral hymns were announced was just the most egregious example of the line between reporting and editorialising being violated by serious national dailies’ front pages) and a 2-3 point uptick in the Con VI.

    It could be other things that have caused the Con VI upward shift. It coukd be one of those eye-catching initiatives announced in the last two weeks, or that tsunami of excellent economic news.

    Me. As ever, I’ll be guided by Occam’s Razor. But I’ll be delighted if the Tories convince themselves that their VI uptick is due to some endogenous issue.

    We’ll see. We usually do, even though what we see never seems to be quite the same thing.

  10. Sun Politics [email protected]_Politics

    YouGov/Sun poll tonight: CON 33%, LAB 40%, LD 10%, UKIP 12%. Lab lead still 7 points. Is the Maggie bounce permanent?

  11. But if we’re talking 400,000 people initially, you also have to consider dependents, particularly children.

    That is a huge figure; I wouldn’t underestimate the backlash this will have against the EU.

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