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. In 1816, England’s debt to GDP topped 240 percent. “What economic disaster followed? The industrial revolution.”

  2. Colin,

    I saw the thread on PB but I don’t buy it.

    Firstly it is rarely a good idea to pin a shift on one event unless it is headline news, like the budget last year. Secondly those headline events tend to have to have a resonance, feeding into a wider narrative. Last years budget U-turns fed into a feeling that the government was suffering from drift and indecision.

    A gradual if welcome fall in pump prices hasn’t been a headline story and can’t really be put down to the government or seen felt as on of a series of indicators that things are getting better.

    If anything I think Thatcher putting the Tories on the front page and perhaps the coverage of the anti Thatcher reaction has put some of those who bought their Council Houses and did okay from the Tories a bit less hostile.

    If that is the case then it should unwind a bit in a week or two.

    If not then it could be that as we pass the mid point of the parliament and we get closer to the next election than the last their is a slight natural tightening.


  3. @colin,

    I totally agree with you. As a centre right poster, I do often feel in the minority!

    Good news that borrowing is down today, a little bit of good economic news for the Conservatives, although I would agree its pretty fractional, but none the less better than a rise.

  4. I wouldn’t discount the effect of floating voters switching back from Lab to Con.

    In today’s YouGov for example, 5% of Con 2010 switching to Lab equates to approx 1.81% of overall VI… 4% of Lab 2010 switching to Con equates to 1.16%.

    In a YouGov poll from February we might have seen Con2010(9%)>Lab of +3.25%, and Lab2010(2%)>Con of +0.58%.

    That looks like a 2.67% advantage cut to 0.65%.

    The consolidation of larger Labour leads last year could have been partly a winner’s halo effect from byelection/local election victories combined with reaction against the budget omnishambes.

    Labour’s campaign in Eastliegh was a big fail, with some voters in the constituency saying it was an insult to put up a joke candidate. I’m still waiting for some evidence that UKIP’s rise is coming from an increase in Labour defections (as a propotion of defections coming from the other parties) though.

  5. LizH

    My round: have a double.

  6. @lizh,

    I think you are rather missing the irony of the partisan nature of your last post…


  7. “LIZH…………Since you think UKPR is a Tory site, and I think that it’s a Lefty site, AW must be perfect.”

    For what it’s worth, I don’t particularly find it’s either.

  8. @ Rich

    My brain is addled so maybe you could enlighten me as to what irony I was missing.

  9. @anthony, any chance of a brand new thread and a reminder of the policy? We never got one for You Gov yesterday continuing to show the Labour lead reducing.

  10. @ Reg of BNF

    What does your comment mean apart from trolling?

    Actually if you read his book on the national question of 1913 – you may be enriched.

  11. @LIZH………I’m a great fan of Rioja these days, might it be your tipple ? Unfortunately there isn’t a blue version, however, at the moment I’m watching Bayern Munich trounce Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions league semi-final, of course, my team beat them both, en route to the title, last year. Where Chelsea are concerned I’m definitely partisan. Hic !!**

  12. Laszlo – don’t bother, he can’t answer you.

  13. @lizh,

    You stated you felt centre right (not right wingers thanks) posters were more biased and partisan, then immediately went on to say the site is only credible due to the more rational left wing posters, a broad brush partisan comment which by definition could be aimed at everybody not sharing your views. It’s not really the sort of post that will attract people to the site, and if you wanted everybody of the same view, wouldn’t you be better on a left wing forum?

    Maybe I should give you leeway for the drink, or get one myself. :-)


  14. does anybody know how you change your background avatar??


    I don’t think anyone has suggested that fuel prices are a single reason fot VI change.

    I don’t buy the idea that MT’s funeral has had any significant effect on VI at all.

  16. Rich – as ever, if people see partisan comments from new contributors please politely point them towards the comments policy. If you see them from existing contributors who should know better please ignore them – I am not here all the time to moderate them, I trust you all to police yourselves, and it takes two to have a partisan argument.

  17. RICH

    @”I think you are rather missing the irony of the partisan nature of your last post…”

    Very funny & well observed.

  18. @Rich

    “Good news that borrowing is down today….”

    It’s not. As Alec pointed out much earlier.

  19. @anthony,
    Agreed. Can you still change backgrounds by the way. Not sure if would, but interested in how it’s done. I can’t work it out..

  20. @Colin,

    “I don’t buy the idea that MT’s funeral has had any significant effect on VI at all.”

    IMO it may be the local elections which are having the most effect on current polling.



    I think I’ll just wait & see how the OPs pan out.

    I can’t cope with too many “reasons “

  22. @phil,

    Yes I read that, but didnt agree with most of it. We do have independant auditing of statistics and figures including the national office of statistics, and therefore I don’t buy the conspiracy theories from opposition parties that the figures are manipulated due to aforementioned auditing, It’s a very minor reduction I agree, but surely better than a big increase was my point?


  23. BTW – the fuel prices thing, I looked at it a few years ago. There was no obvious correlation:

  24. @SoCalLiberal

    Thanks for the link… btw if you click on Harry J Enten’s Guardian profile you get a link to his marginoferror website, with a collection of articles about US politics.

    One of his topics is rating the chances of potential nominations for 2016. “Politics ain’t beanbag” (a quote from Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley of 1895) is one reason he favours Jeb Bush over Marco Rubio – though the former is now “stale” having been out of office since 2007.

    Fans of Rasmussen might be interested in his analysis of their new weighting system:


  25. AW

    “it takes two to have a partisan argument”


    No it doesn’t

  26. J. Ganesh has an interesting article today in FT on EM. In many ways it confirms what we know about from polls but in an indirect (and not very supportive) manner it contemplates if he could pull it off. There are really thoughtful points as well as vague comments, but still reflective.

  27. Livid! ITV News just described T20 as first class cricket.

  28. ^ @laszlo, I wouldnt mind reading that, keep teetering on whether to subscribe to the FT given its not free on ipad. Did you read a physical copy or online subscription?

  29. Rich

    Sometimes if you just click on an FT link in -say-Google News, you can get straight in.

    I did it with the Ganesh article & posted comments on it here-he raises the question of EM fighting the next GE on a platform to the left of TB-who won three elections.

    EM’s rationale?-the “centre ground” has moved to the left.

    John Redwood has a piece on ConHome in similar vein-criticising EM’s concept , & arguing instead for the “common ground”.

  30. @ Rich

    I subscribe to the hard copy (needed over the tea and coffee – one section to me one to my wife and then swapping). It’s on the comment page (even if Ganesh is their own) so I don’t if it’s available in the 5 or whatever number of online articles. The paper is ridiculously expensive without subscription.

  31. Phil Haines


    “Good news that borrowing is down today….”

    It’s not. As Alec pointed out much earlier.

    And I’m still waiting for Colin to answer Alex question

  32. If Arjen Robben posted on UKPR he would be forever moaning about moderation, and flinging himself in front of the ref with an expression of pain & agony.

  33. Which question Roger?

    [God alone knows, but I expect it’s something begging a partisan argument so whatever it is please don’t – AW]

  34. @ Rich

    The article’s title: Labour’s boldness and clarity may be its undoing.

  35. For my sins I listened to “Stephanomics” this morning.

    Maybe I was reading too much into it, but I got the impression the little coterie of mainstream media economists she had gathered together had the sense to see that, in the light of recent events, austerity orthodoxy may be on the way out… not that they would be likely commit themselves to any alternative before time.

  36. @Colin – “I meant to ask-please can you provide a source link to your claim that expenditure has suddenly been treated on a cash basis rather than an accruals basis.
    Is it somewhere in the ONS statement?”

  37. @ Colin

    Sorry I missed your comment on the FT article. Hectic day.

  38. Perhaps we should examine the influence of the Unions backing Ed M, I would imagine that they would require a move to the left in exchange for funding and representation, Blair warned him last week that such a move would be dangerous but I don’t think he has much choice, he needs a coherent policy on the economy that also satisfies Unite etc., that means reversing public sector cuts…ergo, more borrowing, he isn’t in a good place, perhaps he will come up with a surprise for us all.

  39. LASZLO

    No worries.

    On line access to FT is odd. I can’t get full text on that one now ( Googled for it).

    But earlier it let me read the whole thing.

    Perhaps there’s a filter which allows so many reads before they try & get you to pay?

  40. THat was my question to him Roger-& he answered it.

  41. @laszlo,

    I did guess you would be linking to an article that was rather praising. :-)


    Ps, @roger, phil etc. the national office for statistics is independant. I don’t get all the conspiracy theories. The borrowing was down, all be it by just £300m, but what level of reduction will it need to be for you guys to accept a small bit of good news? There are always items accounted in and out, and yes the 4g money was useful for this month, but it had to appear sometime & somewhere!

  42. AW I just wanted to know his source so I could look it up myself

    [Sorry Roger – me leaping to wrong conclusions! – AW]

  43. Ops

  44. @Rich – when the IFS says that the deficit has not fallen, and says things like
    – “There is every indication that the numbers have been carefully managed with a close eye on the headline borrowing figures for this year. It is unlikely that this has led either to an economically optimal allocation of spending across years…”

    I think we can be pretty sure that the figures have been cooked.

  45. The slight fall in Lab VI can probably be attibuted to one of more of the following:
    (a) Thatcher Funeral;
    (b) Blair intervention;
    (c) DC/GO continuing to lead EM/EB;
    (d) Polling that shows people don’t yet see EM as a PM in waiting; and/or
    (e) Lack of Commons accountability for GO due to (a) above.

    Or maybe something else.

  46. Hs someone taken out a contract on LizH? She seems to have disapppeared.

    What time do we usually get Sunny Tweets if the wind is in the right direction for them?

  47. @Rich – “…and yes the 4g money was useful for this month, but it had to appear sometime & somewhere!”

    Why not when it is paid then?

    [Snip – AW] I would genuinely be happy if the deficit was falling, but it isn’t – it is rising.

    The points I have raised regarding scheduling of payments and income for accounting terms is supported by the IFS, and departmental efforts to delay outgoings to push them into the next financial year have been known about for weeks. Emails have been leaked to the press, articles have been written, and officials have briefed this.

    I really think think you ought to accept the obvious fact that if this set of borrowing figures were calculated on the same basis as the figures last year, we would be sitting on a fairly hefty rise in borrowing.

  48. @Colin – really not too sure about the petrol price link to polling. The household income survey I mentioned a couple of days back showed April has got a lot worse, with falling incomes across the board.

    As I said at the time, I really don’t have a feel for how accurate the survey is, but it suggests increasingly poor household finances.

  49. I think we should put a full stop to this discussion of the borrowing figures. I’ve just moderated a comment from Phil about it that, while very well written, is really just about what awful nasty things George Osborne has done.

    As ever, the site is NOT for discussion about whether what politicians, parties and governments do is good or bad, right or wrong, as any discussion invariably ends up with government supporters making skewed and selective partisan arguments about why they are right and government opponents making skewed and selective partisan arguments about why they are wrong, people point scoring and trotting out party lines.

    Public opinion and polling please. Politics as a neutral observer, not a participant. I don’t mind people rambling off on abstract tangents, but when it comes onto the hot political topics of the day it is not normally possible to debate the rights and wrongs (as opposed to the populars and unpopulars) without it devolving into partisanship.

  50. Equally, can people please not play “bad news for party I don’t like” show and tell.

    So far I’ve put two people on pre-moderation tonight, that really should be enough for one day.

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