A Roma woman and her child beg for money
A Roma woman and her child beg for money

The adviser to the Romanian prime minister has slammed British bankers for "stealing billions of euros a year" in a firm rebuttal of the growing panic that the UK would be flooded by Roma immigrants when visa restrictions are lifted on 1 January.

Damian Draghici said he expected relatively few Roma to make the journey to Britain when restrictions on the free movement of Romanians and Bulgarians in the EU are lifted. Britons, he said, should be more concerned about their bankers.

"The Roma begging in the streets are obvious because we see them, they ask for £1 or €1 and they bother us," he said.

"Yet some of the people in the banks are stealing billions of euros but nobody sees them because they are on the 60th floor."

A recent ICM Survey showed that seven in 10 Britons believe David Cameron should retain restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants even if it means breaking European Union laws.

The poll found that 72% of people believed that Britain should keep current restrictions in place. Seventy Tory rebels have called on Cameron to keep the restrictions in place until 2019. citing unmanageable pressures on the NHS and social services.

Draghici denied that large numbers of Romanians would move to Britain because it was "too cold". He predicted that only around 2,000 to 3,000 would travel to the UK this winter.

"Seventy percent of Roma that left from Romania in the last 10 years are integrated," he said.

"They have kids that go to school and they act like active citizens and taxpayers in the places where they are."

The Conservatives are aware that their success at the next general election in 2015 could depend on their stance over Romanian and Bulgarian immigration.

In response to growing concerns, Theresa May, the home secretary, has floated plans for an annual 75,000 cap on the number of EU migrants.