An advertising campaign designed to illustrate the drawbacks of living in the U.K. is being planned to deter an expected surge of immigrants, according to reports.
Quotas limiting the number of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania are due to expire next year, which will suddenly give 29 million people the right to live and work unrestricted in Britain. Predictions of how many will actually emigrate from both countries range from 250,000 within five years to 425,000 within two years, reports the Guardian.
One plan to curb the expected influx of migrants is to deport those who move to Britain just to claim state benefits; another option would be to require people arriving from Romania and Bulgaria to prove that they can support themselves for at least six months, reports the Daily Mail.
But the best (or at least, the most amusing) method of deterring immigrants may be to convince them that they don’t want to come to Britain at all. Government ministers are reportedly considering a negative ad campaign that focuses on the downsides of British life, in order to “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold,” the Guardian reports one government official as saying.
There’s been no indication yet of what such a campaign would look like — whether it would focus on the benefits staying in their countries or make Britain look as unpleasant as possible. The Guardian invited its readers to send in their own suggestions for poster designs, and the results are unstintingly harsh — miserable weather, violent hooligans, binge drinking, litter and unreliable public transport all get called out — not to mention hilarious.
But a negative ad campaign flies in the face of the billions of pounds Britain spent on last Summer’s Olympics — partly to burnish the country’s reputation, notes the Guardian. One member of parliament has said the supposed plans “border on the farcical,” according to the BBC.
The idea has actually been tried before: the town of Leicester targeted a negative advertising campaign at would-be immigrants from Uganda in the early 1970s – although as the Daily Telegraph notes, the scheme had little effect.