The Romanian Wave
Romanians work right across the UK economy. So why do they get such a bad press?
Romanians are the second largest foreign nationality in the UK. Why did they come and will they stay? One politician famously once said he "would not like to live next door to Romanians." But now they work in the health service, they teach in British universities, pick fruit on farms and wash cars. Yet sensational headlines have described them as "criminal gangs" and "begging Roma."
Tessa Dunlop, a Romania-phile historian, uncovers a misunderstood, multi-layered immigrant community and asks why so many now call Britain home.
The UK has a surprising historic link with Romania. 100 years ago, the British-born monarch, Queen Marie of Romania emerged as a big winner from the post WWI settlement, with her country doubling in size. As Romania celebrates this centenary back home, 30% of its workforce now live overseas, with nearly half a million in the UK. Arguably, their arrival in the UK was an important factor in the Brexit result.
Tessa meets medical staff who treated her in hospital, fruit pickers, academics and those working below the minimum wage, to understand more about this community, what keeps them here and what stops them from going home.
(Photo: A man waves the Romanian flag at a protest against amendments to the justice law, 2019. Credit: Andre Pungovschi/AFP/Getty Images)