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Former Bank of England Governor encouraged Blair to open the door to eastern European immigration

John Ashmore

1 min read

Mervyn King advised Tony Blair to allow immigration from new European Union members without transitional controls, a former senior diplomat has claimed.

In private conversations with Mr Blair, Baron King opposed the imposition of transitional controls on migration from states joining the EU in 2004, which included Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU from 2013 to 2017, made the claims in a speech at Oxford University yesterday.

“King pressed the case to open the labour market without transition on the grounds that it would help lower wage growth and inflation, address supply bottlenecks in a fast-growing pre-financial crisis economy, and help keep interest rates low,” Sir Ivan said.

He claimed that the impact of migration from new member states was “barely discussed” before 2004, and that the government had underestimated the number of new arrivals.

Sir Ivan stood down as Permanent Representative to the EU in January, saying that civil servants still did not know what the government’s objectives were ahead of Brexit negotiations.

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