John Harris

Journalist & Author

These Europeans came to live a British dream. Is it all over? | John Harris

Hard-working and self-reliant, they moved to the UK to get ahead. But tough talk on immigration makes many fear for the future

On the southern edge of Peterborough is a new residential development called Cardea – a huge expanse of housing served by a solitary Morrisons supermarket and a self-styled “clean, modern pub” called the Apple Cart – which has become a byword for the more affluent elements of the city’s Polish population.

On roads called Jupiter Avenue, Hercules Way and Neptune Close, newly built homes extend into the distance. A three-bedroom detached will give you change out of £250,000, and put you in close proximity to the expanse of warehouses, distribution centres and retail outlets which power a big part of the local economy. The openings such places offer tend to fall one of two ways: management positions and tech roles for people who have either worked their way up or arrived with the right qualifications; or, at what the modern vernacular calls entry level, more uncertain roles for people who are prepared to put in the graft, and who often shoulder the burden of mind-bending shift patterns and low wages.

Related: 80% of Britain’s 1.4m eastern European residents are in work

Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Bulgarians and Romanians have fed a job market in which few British people are interested

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