No jobs and lots of rain: Why ministers could trash-talk Britain to would-be immigrants

By staff

Whitehall officials are considering an unorthodox method of preventing another wave of immigration from the continent: pointing out that Britain is not all that Great after all.

Reports suggest an advertising campaign targeting Romania and Bulgaria is being considered, making clear the streets of the UK are not, in the words of one minister, "paved with gold".

The coalition government fears large numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians will travel to Britain once temporary restrictions expire in December this year.

Earlier this month MigrationWatch warned there could be between 30,000 and 70,000 arrivals in each of the next five years as a result of the shift.

The two countries joined the EU in 2007 but only 25,000 citizens have been permitted to come to Britain for jobs since then.

With limited options available, the UK is now considering flagging up some of the less attractive parts of life in Britain to deter would-be immigrants.

Consultants are working on a number of ideas, which could include flagging up the UK's terrible weather, binge-drinking culture and its miserable job prospects.

The latter could prove difficult to prove as unemployment continues to rise, going against the grain of the UK economy's overall stagnation.

Such measures are being taken as a clear signal of concern from ministers. Downing Street told the Guardian newspaper: "It is true that options are being looked at but we are not commenting on the specific things mentioned… as obviously it is an ongoing process and we will bring forward any proposals in due course."

Some Conservative MPs are calling for Britain to defy the EU's rules permitted free movement of peoples.

They are concerned the prime minister may not be able to achieve his claim of getting immigration under control. The policy has proved difficult for the Conservatives, who had promised to reduce net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands during the 2010 general election campaign.

That target now seems unachievable without further cuts in the number of overseas students, which the higher education sector says is critical to its ability to maintain current courses for domestic students. With a further influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants, experts believe the target will become impossible.