‘Take on Farage’: President of Romanian senate comes to UK with hard message for Clegg

The president of the Romanian parliament has warned mainstream politicians in Britain to challenge "unapologetic populists" on immigration, ahead of a key meeting with Nick Clegg.

Writing for politics.co.uk, Crin Antonescu warned that a mutually beneficial relationship between Romania and Britain was being put in jeopardy by the fierce rhetoric surrounding the end of the EU control mechanism at the end of the year.

"There have always been populist politicians happy to take advantage of people's fears for electoral gain. I am saddened that in 21st Century Europe, and in particular in the UK, that this is still the case," he wrote.

"In 2007 when Romania joined the EU we reluctantly agreed to postpone the application of the fourth fundamental freedom of the EU – the right to live, work and learn anywhere in the EU – until 2014.

"We are therefore frustrated and offended that some now suggest that these restrictions should be maintained to stop an imaginary tsunami of uneducated, unwashed criminals from swamping civilization."

He added: "It is time for the political mainstream in the UK to openly challenge the xenophobic mischief of the unapologetic populists. It is time for them to explain to Britons the benefits of Romanians to the UK and vice-versa."

The article suggest the Romanian political class is losing patience with the increasingly outspoken comments about their country from Ukip politicians and some parts of the Tory party.

The former president of Romania met Clegg this afternoon for talks, in which he raised questions about the nature of debate on Romanian immigration.

He also pushed for pro-European parliamentarians like  the Liberal Democrats to confront the rhetoric of Ukip head on.

The eurosceptic party has made considerable political gains by stoking fears about the extent of Romanian and Bulgarian immigration into the UK after movement controls end.

But recent polling suggests that surge may now be dying down, with Ukip slipping six points to 12% in the last Guardian/ICM survey.