x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Modest to a fault

Will the UK succeed to stem the flow of migrants from Bulgaria and Romania by showing itself in a poor light?

Please don't come to Britain - it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. An advert like this might persuade you to give up your UK dreams, particularly if you don't like gloomy weather.

That is what ministers in Britain think as they consider a campaign that would show the country in a negative light. The aim is to deter potential economic migrants from Bulgaria and Romania, the European Union's newest members.

The controversial think-tank Migration Watch, which supports immigration control, says about 50,000 people from these two countries will land in the UK each year until 2019, creating pressure on the country's housing and jobs. Although there is no shortage of xenophobia in Europe's immigration debate, there are valid concerns about strains on society.

But it's an irony that Britain is considering a self-denigrating campaign less than year after spending billions on building its image - quite successfully, by most accounts - ahead of the Olympics. It takes considerable self-confidence to acknowledge one's own flaws, but in this case the character defect may be dishonesty.