Just two dozen Romanians estimated to have arrived in UK

Predictions that millions of Romanian immigrants would flood into the UK when work restrictions were lifted have proved unfounded, with one estimate claiming that as few as two dozen have arrived.

Journalists waiting at Heathrow airport last week struggled to find any Romanian or Bulgarian immigrants arriving in the UK, with one paper finding just one genuine new migrant.

Now Romania's British ambassador has cited figures showing that just 21 Romanians registered their arrival in the Netherlands since restrictions were lifted. He predicted even less may have arrived in the UK.

"What we know is that on the flight into Luton airport on the January 1st, only two Romanians took advantage of the lifting of border restrictions in Britain," Ion Jinga wrote in the Telegraph.

"We also have figures from the Netherlands, where the registration is requested: in the first ten days, 21 Romanians and 15 Bulgarians have registered.

He suggested the figures for the UK could even be lower.

"I do not see any reason why Holland would be less attractive than the UK, with the geographic proximity playing in favour of the Dutch," he added.

Unlike some countries, an official register of migrants is not kept in the UK.

However, Jinga pointed to figures showing that the number of Romanians coming to work in the UK had actually decreased last year.

"As for the number of EU citizens coming to Britain, National Insurance Number (Nino) registrations to adult overseas entering the UK for the period 2012-2013 show an increase of 50% Spaniards, 44% Greeks, 43% Portuguese, 36% Hungarians, 35% Italians. The number of Nino registrations to Romanians has decreased by 22%."

Jinga's comments come after Cabinet minister Ken Clarke hit out at the anti-immigration rhetoric coming out of Downing Street.

He described the recent furore over Romanian and Bulgarian immigration as "typical right wing, nationalist escapism" and dismissed fears of a new wave of immigration from the EU.

"I just don't think it's true that the European Union is responsible for unacceptable waves of migration," he told the Financial Times.

Downing Street immediately rebuffed Clarke's comments.

"Immigration in the decade up to 2010 was allowed to be out of control," a spokesman said.

"The prime minister has been very clear about that. It was too high."