Britain: population rising to 65.6 million by 2018

The equivalent of the entire population of New Zealand will be added to the UK within seven years. Are Brits ready?

Damning reports, commissioned by the last Labour government, and published by the Sunday Telegraph, calculate that after floodgates were opened to new EU accession states like Bulgaria and Romania, a wave of people hit the UK.

In Europe, only the Netherlands and Belgium are more densely populated. Yet the UK is set to become even more crowded. Most new arrivals will move to London inevitably, a city with already strained public services. And few of these migrants will speak English as a first language. With unemployment rising and speculation that joblessness was a significant factor in stoking recent riots, are Brits prepared?

The Conservative-LibDem Coalition may use these reports to make political capital. Labour, traditionally the party of social justice is under pressure, not only from the Coalition but even from within its own ranks. David Blunkett, a former Labour Home Secretary has joined current Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander in pressing for leader Ed Miliband to recognise the "people's everyday struggle," reports The Guardian.

Labour is some four percent ahead in opinion polls, yet the next election is not until 2015 by which time the population will have significantly increased. The struggling people won't forget who opened the floodgates, and will no doubt punish the party accordingly.

But the Coalition has to rectify the mistake. 

One way would be to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe, a proposition already on the agenda. The Chairman of the influential Tory backbench 1922 Committee, Mark Pritchard, added his voice to this debate by telling the Telegraph that the EU "has become an “occupying force” which is eroding British sovereignty and that the “unquestioning support” of backbenchers is no longer guaranteed."

Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet are under huge pressure to calm society and regenerate the economy. Austerity measures introduced in the wake of a profligate previous administration and rampant consumerism will make job generation hard. New export markets are needed and much more training of the young. Entrepreneurialism has to thrive, particularly in the knowledge economy. And the last thing the country needs is a rapidly rising number of work-hungry Europeans at a time when locals can't find work.

It appears that the British are finally waking up to the damage EU membership has caused, not least by the desire of so many Europeans (who don't require work permits) to search for employment in the UK.

Moves to redefine the UK's relationship with the Continent cannot come fast enough, and every ounce of support is needed by those who press for reform. For revitalisation will result from that. As the world shifts into an ever-more precarious economic state, Brits bask in a distracting 27degree 'Indian Summer', but have they fully recognised what's at stake?

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  1. Well China/India seems to make good use of their massive populace, why can't Britain do the same...May be Britain needs to look further a field than the Western Style for there economic and social policies

  2. Good point. But China's population density is only 140 people per sq km, whereas Britain's is 255. India is greater, sure, with 368 people per sq km - yet unpleasant overcrowding in most Indian cities, where horrendous slums are commonplace, leaves me thinking that most Brits would rather live in their well-ordered "green and pleasant land."

    It's not just the pressure of numbers on space, but the additional pressure such an influx would have on the provision of public services, like health, policing or education. Not much of those in India for the masses, I fear.

    China, by contrast, is a politically totalitarian state and can order at will, clearing away villages to advance industrialisation. There've been increasing resentment from the Chinese at this, with civil disurbances becoming frequent of late. Which Brits would wish to mimic such a system? Some have rioted (as we know) even though they live in a functioning democracy, how much more would they resent it if they were subjected to an autocratic regime?