Edmonds says "bus is full" on immigration

LONDON Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:54am BST

An official is silhouetted against prayer mats in the Muslim prayer room at the new Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport, September 16, 2004. REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid

An official is silhouetted against prayer mats in the Muslim prayer room at the new Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport, September 16, 2004.

Credit: Reuters/Peter Macdiarmid

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LONDON (Reuters) - TV game show host Noel Edmonds has made controversial comments about immigration, saying there are too many migrants to Britain and they are draining national resources.

"We can all go down the pub and go, 'Oh it's terrible, all these immigrants.' But what are we going to do in Britain to change this toxic culture if we don't say, 'Enough is enough,'" the popular presenter told the News of the World on Sunday.

"I'm very straightforward on immigration. The bus is full," he said. "We haven't got enough energy, we haven't got enough electricity, we haven't got enough of a health service."

The comments by one of the country's most widely watched entertainers are likely to spark debate.

Britain has welcomed millions of new migrants to its shores in recent years, especially those from east European countries that are now members of the European Union.

The influx has given a substantial boost to the economy as new arrivals have taken on many of the undesirable jobs, often for low wages, that Britons generally no longer want to do.

But as the economy has slowed in the last year and the credit crisis has taken a toll, polls show most Britons think there are too many immigrants in the country and want to see new restrictions imposed on the influx.

A YouGov poll last week showed 57 percent of adults thought there should be less immigration.

Edmonds, 59, the host of popular game show Deal or No Deal, said he not only wanted to crack down on immigration, but on crime and youth violence, saying he would like to build more prisons and overhaul the police force.

"If I was prime minister for a day the first thing I would do would be to close the border. Then we could work out how many people we've got here.

"Then you get people out who have committed crimes and you look at others who shouldn't be here. Nobody knows how many people we've got here."

Edmonds denied there was any element of racism in his views, saying he just wanted to be straightforward about the numbers of immigrants and how an increase in people would lead to competition for scarce resources.

"Please be clear. I do not have an agenda that involves where people come from, the colour of their skin or what their religion is.

"But it is a fact that there is a finite number of people who can fit into a lift.

"This is an island and we have a situation now where we are going to run out of energy," said the personality, who once hosted a programme called Noel's House Party featuring an inflated pink character called Mr Blobby.

(Reporting by Luke Baker)

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