BRITISH people should be “first in line” for jobs, according to Huddersfield’s MP.
Barry Sheerman made the demand yesterday after a foreign coffee shop worker got his order wrong before handing him “the worst bacon bap”.
The Labour man yesterday called on British firms to give young people in Huddersfield “first crack” at jobs over recently arrived immigrants from Eastern Europe.
And the veteran backbencher warned that “pernicious political correctness” could prevent a proper debate of the issue.
On Monday Mr Sheerman used micro-blogging website Twitter to vent his frustration at poor service in a coffee shop.
He wrote: “Just had worst coffee & bacon bap in London at Victoria Station. Why can’t Camden Food Co employ English staff?”
Speaking to the Examiner yesterday, Mr Sheerman explained: “I was in a bit of a hurry to get the right train.
“The girl who served me couldn’t speak very good English. She got my order wrong and my change wrong – that’s what made me cross.
“I know she was from Eastern Europe but I don’t know if it was Lithuania or Poland.”
But Mr Sheerman added: “She wasn’t to blame for the bacon buttie – it was a mish-mash of little bits, not a piece of bacon.
“You get a much better bacon buttie in Huddersfield. There’s a lovely lady who runs a cafe in Moldgreen and makes the best bacon buttie in Yorkshire.”
Following Mr Sheerman’s initial tweet, fellow Twitter user Nick Linford asked the Labour man if he was being prejudiced.
He responded: “I am not a xenophobe. I am an MP and I represent the good folk of Huddersfield not Gdansk!”
Mr Sheerman explained the response.
“I don’t represent Gdansk, I represent Huddersfield. My interest as an MP is looking after the interests of people in Huddersfield,” he said.
“There are a lot of unemployed people in Huddersfield and I think they should have first crack at jobs rather than someone who arrived from Eastern Europe yesterday.
“The average young person in my constituency has got competition from every young person in Europe.
“I can see why everyone thinks our country is paved with gold – they all want to come here.
“I’m getting increasingly worried about the free movement of people across Europe.
“It’s a very competitive world out there and my constituents resent that.”
Mr Sheerman added that politicians should be free to express their views on immigration.
“I don’t see why I can’t say that I wish these chains would employ more British kids than kids that come from Eastern Europe,” he said.
“If we’re so politically correct then we stop representing people.
“When I’m told I can’t articulate the view that the people I represent should be first in line for jobs I find that irritatingly pernicious political correctness.
“If I can’t speak out for my constituents then heaven help us.”
Mr Sheerman added that he was not prejudiced against foreigners.
“I’m not anti-immigrant, I’m pro-my constituents getting jobs first in line,” he said.
“I have a long record fighting against prejudice. If anyone looks at my record in Parliament they will see that I’ve never been a prejudiced person – most people think I’ve been too liberal.”
“The high levels of immigration puts pressure on housing, hospitals and our schools.
“Every school I go to, the real problem is churn – people moving in, moving out. You have to be a miracle teacher to cope with that level of churn.”