You’d think a politician might steer clear of incendiary comments about immigration, but the Speaker, John Bercow, has weighed in with his view that Eastern Europeans who come to the UK are harder working than the British.
The comments were actually made during a visit to the Romanian Parliament last week, but are particularly contentious because they cast doubt on the neutrality that the Speaker is supposed to exercise in political matters.
He said: ‘I want to underline the fact that there has been an important wave of immigrants that came to Great Britain from new member states and in many cases they came with aptitudes and a commitment, an involvement we haven't always seen in our labour force.’
The Speaker could have stopped there, with a mildly political statement, but instead, he decided to sharpen his claim with an overtly political position. ‘I am here as a friend of Romania and someone who sees the benefits of immigration.’
Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP and a man who has become a pin-up for those who want caps on immigration, offered his two pence worth. He says: ‘There are very good practical and constitutional reasons why the Speaker is neutral, reasons that he obviously believes are beneath his own august self-image.’