Douglas Carswell

20 NOV 2013

Student loans for Romanians and Bulgarians? Are we mad?

I'm seething. But not half as angry as my constituent.

Her daughter had studied hard and been accepted by a good university. She had just started life as a fresher. Mum was so proud, busying herself with the sort of things that proud mums do when their daughter goes off to university.

No one imagined that that that irksome delay with the Student Loan whatsit was anything to fret about.

Because my constituent, and her family, had lived for a while in Germany, the Student Loan Company wanted more details. How long had she lived in Germany? Was she normally resident here?

Spend two minutes talking to my constituent, and it is perfectly obvious she – and her daughter – are as British as a post box.

But it is ticking the boxes on the application form that counts. And because she had lived in Germany for a short time, her application for a student loan was rejected. Despite a very understanding Vice Chancellor, she has now had to drop out of university.

Try to imagine how that family in Clacton might now feel, when they read that student loans to Bulgarians and Romanians have just been suspended.

Do you suppose my constituents are likely to be grateful that at last some chump in Whitehall has finally woken up to the fact that many of the Bulgarian and Romanian applications were, apparently, bogus?

No, my ministerial pals. They are going to be furious. Livid. Volcanic in their anger. And it will be directed at you.

What the heck are we doing, they will ask themselves and their neighbours, giving student loans to any Bulgarians or Romanians in the first place? The very month that my constituent's daughter had to pack her things and leave university, we were apparently approving student loans to non-UK nationals. Why?

Thanks to decades of Euro folly, those in SW1 have landed us in a situation where a British student, who happens to have spent some time in Europe, is thrown out of university. European students, meanwhile, have been accessing student loans.

Being British now counts for nothing in a bureaucratic world in which it has become strictly verboten to discriminate on grounds of nationality. So we end up discriminating on grounds of residency. Which is what got a British student thrown out of a British university after six weeks.

Another day, another illustration of what membership of the EU actually means. Politicians and their pet pundits in SW1 need to stop thinking about EU membership in terms of backbench "rebellions" or "Tory splits". Think about what it means for this Clacton family.

Did anyone imagine that this is were we would end up when we voted to join a Common Market all those years ago?

We cannot go on like this. For the first time I am starting to think that maybe the Tory Party must become explicitly "outist" – or, I fear, there might not be much left of the Tory party.

This article first appeared on the Telegraph, where Douglas writes regularly.

Back to all posts

The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy

"A revolutionary text ... right up there with the Communist manifesto" - Dominic Lawson, Sunday Times

Printed by Douglas Carswell of 61 Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex