Rashmee Z Ahmed, India Times, Apr. 28
LONDON: Britain will slash the number of work permits it grants to Indians and non-European Union citizens, Prime Minister Tony Blair has said, even as he praised the UK’s huge Ugandan Indian population as model immigrants.
Blair’s surprise announcement comes just months after his government published figures that Indians and Americans were the two nationalities granted the highest number of work permits in recent years.
On Tuesday, Blair indicated the balance would henceforth incline to work permit applications from the mainly eastern European countries, which are to join the EU on Saturday.
Analysts said Blair appeared to be making it plain that the new EU members would have priority, over and above non-EU nationals.
South Asian community leaders, including Habib Rahman, the Bangladeshi-born chairman of the Joint Refugee Council, criticised Blair’s decision apparently to whisk the welcome-mat back for Indians, Bangladeshis and other non-EU workers.