Despite efforts to clampdown on the number of people going to the UK to work, Britain's net migration figure has soared to 182,000, from 153,000 in October 2012, mainly fuelled by arrivals from heavily indebted southern European countries.
The influx prompted the tabloid newspaper The Sun to run a story with the headline “PIGS here” – a warning that Britons should be more concerned about an “invasion” from southern Europe rather than eastern. PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain – is an acronym for how the financial markets referred to the troubled indebted European countries, with an extra “I” later added by analysts for Italy.
The number of Italians arriving in the UK increased by 52 percent to 39,400 between September 2012 and September 2013, according to net migration figures from the UK's Department of Work and Pensions. This compares to a 45 percent increase from Portugal and 31 percent from Greece.
“Great Britain, with a more flexible labour market than ours, and with an economy that has started to grow again after a long recession – at a stronger pace than the whole of the EU – evidently represents a potential paradise for young Italians out of work and for their peers in southern Europe,” an editorial in La Repubblica said.
But “through British eyes, the phenomenon is worrying”, the column added, “especially for a conservative populist and xenophobic press”.
Youth unemployment in Italy hit a record high of 41.2 percent in October, while overall 12.5 percent of Italians are out of work, the national statistics agency Istat said on Friday.
Meanwhile, Italians who have already made the move to the UK say they have no intention of returning home, at least not for the short-term.