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'I see the grim eye of prejudice … we will have race crimes'

Beatrice Nicholas is a legal adviser who is originally from Romania and now lives in Glasgow.

Beatrice Nicholas, a Romanian who has been in Scotland for more                                than 23 years, said many Romanians and Bulgarians who come to the UK may return home soon due to cultural issuesPhotograph: Phil Rider
Beatrice Nicholas, a Romanian who has been in Scotland for more than 23 years, said many Romanians and Bulgarians who come to the UK may return home soon due to cultural issuesPhotograph: Phil Rider

She came to Scotland more than 23 years ago after meeting her Scottish husband and is a founder of the Strathclyde Scottish Romanian Society.

She described the debate around the lifting of the restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers coming to the UK as "disgraceful".

She said: "The result will be felt by the community here as incorrect, wrongful, malicious, stigmatising … The latest reports will do nothing but aggravate situations and we will have racial crimes, we will have prejudice.

"It is very sad, when this community has so much to offer."

Nicholas said the negative attitudes stemmed from fear, ignorance and misinformation - but much of it was politically motivated to divert attention from issues closer to home.

"It is all politics and what they are doing is diverting attention from the real political situation and their [the UK government's] failure to honour their policies," she said.

She added that she felt attitudes towards Eastern Europeans were worse than when she first came to Scotland.

"I've seen the attitudes of people here deteriorating towards Eastern Europeans. I am very sad.

"I can see the grim eye of prejudice, coming up really strong these days."

Nicholas also disputed the idea that the lifting of the border restrictions would trigger a "flood" of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria.

Other countries in the European Union closer to Romania, such as Germany, have better employment opportunities, or an easier language to learn, such as Spain, she said.

She said: "The ones that wanted to be here are already here. Romanians and Bulgarians already have the right to work with a few requirements … The ones that are coming on January 1 and 2, they are returning to their existing jobs."

She also argued that many of those who did take up the new chance to work in the UK may not stay, because of differences in culture and language.

"There will be a handful of those taking a flight for the adventure," she added. "But many of these ones, I believe they will they go back because Britain is a very different culture."

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