UK

'I Don't Want To Rob Britain, I Want To Work' Says Romanian On First Flight Into Britain

01/01/2014 12:12 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 15:52 GMT

One of the first Romanians to arrive in the UK since immigration restrictions were lifted told reporters he was coming here "to work, and then go home".

Victor Spiresau, a 30-year-old construction worker, said: "I don't come to rob your country. I come to work and then go home".

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Most of the Romanians on his 7.40am flight into Luton on Wednesday already work in the UK, returning after a Christmas holiday to see their families.

keith vaz

Victor Spiresau met Keith Vaz and Mark Reckless at Luton airport

Mr Spiresau said he earned 10 euros a day working in construction at home, but that he hoped to make 10 euros an hour here.

He said he already has work lined up washing cars in London but hopes to go on to work in the construction industry and chose to come to the UK over other European countries as he can speak the language.

"I like English. I understand English," he said.

"I don't want to stay here. I want to renovate my home and to make a good life in Romania because it's much easier to live in Romania because it's not expensive."

Mr Spiresau, who has left his wife at home in their small village, added: "She hopes to see me with a lot of money."

Immigrants at the airport were greeted by Labour MP and Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz and Tory MP Mark Reckless.

"Just on the conversations we've had with people who have come here, a lot of them are returning people, they already work in Britain and they're coming back after a holiday so they're not people coming here for the first time," Mr Vaz said.

"We've seen no evidence of people who have rushed out and bought tickets in order to arrive because it's the 1st of January.

"We'd be surprised if they did so, this is after all only a snapshot.

"But we do need to resolve this issue in the future, and it's an issue for the whole of the EU to resolve so we don't get these kinds of dramas at the end."

Mr Vaz criticised the "panic measures" ahead of the temporary curbs imposed in 2005 on citizens of Romania and Bulgaria being lifted.

Ninety senior Conservatives attempted to block the move in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, arguing he could invoke a clause in EU law to keep the borders shut.

But ministers denied such a move would be feasible.

Also on the flight was Silviu Todea, who was returning to London after visiting Romania over the holidays.

He said he believed the majority of his compatriots would want to work.

Mr Todea, 27, who has a job in marketing in the capital, said: "Everyone has their own opinions especially with their past experiences with other nations, but I think it won't be so bad."

While some have raised fears of a surge in immigration similar to that seen from Poland in 2002, others have accused the Prime Minister of "pandering to prejudice" as he responds to the threat posed by the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

Mr Cameron has rushed through new measures to ensure that from today EU migrants will be unable to claim out-of-work benefits for their first three months in the UK.