British Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that Britain would be prepared to close its borders to prevent an influx of Greek immigrants in the event of a Greek euro exit.
The Financial Times reported Cameron confirmed there are contingency plans to prevent an influx of Greeks arriving in Britain if Greece were to exit the euro and subsequently underwent civil unrest or a dire economic downturn. Cameron told a committee of MPs "We obviously have contingency plans for all sorts of eventualities . . . the legal position is that if there are extraordinary stresses and strains, it is possible to take action to restrict migratory flows. Obviously we hope that doesn’t happen . . . I would be prepared to do what it takes."
Cameron defended his position by stating "I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to keep our country safe, to keep our banking system strong, to keep our economy robust. At the end of the day, as prime minister, that is your first and foremost duty."
European Union nationals have the right of free travel between EU countries, thus Cameron is considering an illegal move, according to the Greek press. To Vima labelled the plan to exclude Greek immigrants from Britain as illegal, whilst Ekathimerini ran a piece entitled "Why are you afraid of the Greeks, Mr Cameron?" It asked in what way Cameron thought Greek people would threaten Britain's safety:
"Safe from what, though? What does he expect a possible influx of Greeks escaping an economic collapse would lead to? Would these newcomers to his country suddenly start stabbing schoolchildren in the streets, leave teenage girls pregnant, spend their time binge drinking, apply for jobs whilst lacking skills, engage in terrorism, infiltrate British banks and invest in risky derivatives to collapse the financial system or simply attempt to fix the Libor rate to maximize their gains at the expense of UK taxpayers? How, exactly, would they put Britain’s safety at risk?"
As the Greek press takes umbrage with Cameron's "gutless politics and a fear of a non-existent threat" Cameron's remarks have also attracted criticism in Britain where he stands accused of endangering tourism between the two countries. Denis MacShane, the former Labour Europe minister, accused the Tories of stirring up non-existent tensions as he raised the point "And of course, if we ban every Greek from coming into Britain, the Greeks will ban every Brit from going into Greece – that's a great start to the holiday season."