The number of Romanians and Bulgarians employed in Britain has dropped since the start of the year despite the lifting of entry restrictions, official figures showed Wednesday.
Politicians and many newspapers had expressed fears of a wave of immigrants from the two poorest countries in the European Union once the restrictions ended on January 1.
In fact, the total of 140,000 citizens from Romania and Bulgaria employed in Britain between January and March represented a decline of 4,000 when compared with the 144,000 in work in the last three months of 2013.
Keith Vaz, a lawmaker who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee in parliament, said the figures were "unsurprising".
"The Committee viewed for itself how the supposed flood of immigration from Romania and Bulgaria was little more than a trickle. It would appear now that many may have actually left the UK."
He added: "By not understanding the likely levels of immigration we risk increasing the poisonous rhetoric and prejudice which leads to the destruction of all rational debate. We must not have an immigration arms race."
Vaz was one of a handful of MPs who went to Luton airport near London on January 1 to greet new arrivals from Romania.
When just a trickle appeared at the arrivals gate, the scrum of news photographers -- and Vaz himself -- pounced on the bemused Victor Spirescu, a 30-year-old who within days had found work washing cars.