ALMOST three-quarters of people in Yorkshire are opposed to opening up UK borders to migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, according to the results of an opinion roll released today by Eurosceptic business tycoon Paul Sykes.
The polling, carried out by YouGov, found 74 per cent rejected the lifting of border restrictions from the beginning of January, with Mr Sykes using the findings as a springboard to announce plans to fund a war chest for Ukip to fight next May’s European elections.
Only 15 per cent of 1,013 people polled in Yorkshire supported the change to border controls while the remaining 11 per cent said they did not know.
Mr Sykes, who developed the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, said he viewed the elections as Britain’s last chance to break free from Brussels and was prepared to spend heavily to support Ukip which is already favourite to win the most votes at next year’s elections.
He said: “You cannot call yourself an independent country if you surrender all controls over your borders. But this is what we have done by agreeing to ever closer union in Europe, the free movement across borders of its 500 million inhabitants, and signing treaty after treaty giving up our ancient democratic rights of self-government.
“I have nothing against people from Romania and Bulgaria. But given the four million immigrants we have absorbed since 1997 and given the prospect that the end of transitional controls on two of the poorest countries on the Continent will trigger another wave of mass immigration, in defiance of public opinion, we have to draw the line somewhere.”
Mr Sykes’s pledge to bankroll Ukip’s promotional budget is underlined with an advert in today’s Yorkshire Post which urges David Cameron to listen to the public and act to stem a potential inflow of large numbers of immigrants.
It also launches a new petition calling on the Government to suspend the relaxation of border regulations and a new website, areyoulisteningprimeminister.com, to mobilise public opinion behind the campaign.
A Downing Street spokesman responded: “The Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU and then put that to a referendum.”
Mr Sykes has given financial backing to Eurosceptic parties and candidates for more than 20 years having previously been a supporter of and major donor to the Conservative Party. He said he still regarded himself as a Conservative but did not regard Mr Cameron’s party as Conservative.
“I believe we have one last chance to stop the gradual erosion of our national independence. And that chance comes with the European elections,” said Mr Sykes. “If, as I hope and believe, Ukip score a stunning national victory, then the leaders of the other main parties will have no choice but to abandon their slavish support for the EU.
“I favour our immediate withdrawal from the EU and our rebirth as a self-governing democracy. But because I am a democrat and a patriot, interested only in the welfare of my homeland, I want that decision taken by the people of this country in an in/out referendum.
“I want to see all parties commit to an early referendum. So far they have stubbornly refused to listen. Maybe a comprehensive thrashing at the polls will bring them to their senses. Far better would be to accelerate the whole process and have that referendum on the day of the general election in 2015.
“I pledge to do all I can to help Nigel Farage and Ukip win next May in the elections to the European Parliament and change the shape of British politics for ever.”