It is the end of days. As the hangovers fade in the New Year it will be to witness the spectacle of vast hordes trooping off planes, trains and boats clasping evidence of EU citizenship as proof they can work in our fine nation.
Under “transitional” rules introduced when Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, migrants from these two countries can only work in the UK in seasonal jobs such as fruit picking, or if they are self-employed.
These restrictions end on January 1, 2014, and all Romanians and Bulgarians will then have the same rights to work in the UK as British citizens.
The model predicts that over the next five years from January 1 at least 385,000 migrants will move from Bulgaria and Romania – more than the population of Coventry.
Swamped! Swamped I tell you - the pressures on our creaking public services will be too great, the schools won't have the places, the hospitals will be filled with the grannies of Roma and Bulgar migrants and we'll spend our lives speaking some sort of pidgin English.
Even if I was to accept that there'll be 385,000 arrivals from Bulgaria and Romania, I really don't believe that a country with 70 million people - 200 times that number - can't welcome some new arrivals. For sure, I want to know who is coming in and that they're doing something constructive. I'm all for putting them on a plane back home if they misbehave. But can we have a little less hysteria please?
If we want to challenge in that big bad ugly world - to compete in that ghastly "global race" some folk want to believe in - then we need migration. We need Brits to go an work in France, in Dubai and in Hong Kong. And to retire to Spain, Ireland or Florida. These international connections, the British diaspora is a vital component in our economy, in creating the links with the rest of the world we'll need for future trade and prosperity.
This works both ways. Those Romanians, Bulgarians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Russians, Somalis - all those immigrants we're so rude about - their links home generate new economic activity and benefit our nation. Not because of cheap labour or a willingness to accept the bending of employment rules but because diversity is essential to economic growth:
It is important to note how this ‘[population] churn’ helps cities. Knowledge-based economies run on the quality of ideas. Ideas are not only a function of intelligence or education, but also the depth of information a person, or a city, receives.
London is successful because it is diverse. And it has always been diverse.
So I'm with Sam Bowman from the Adam Smith Institute on this - more free movement is a benefit not a curse:
There are lots and lots of bad things governments do that ruin people’s lives. But few cause as much harm to the poorest people as the state controls of where people can work and live that we call ‘migration policy’. Even a marginal step towards a more liberal immigration policy would allow people to create an enormous amount of wealth, and probably do more good than almost any other possible policy.