Net immigration hits six year high in blow to Coalition

Tom Whitehead – May 26, 2011

Last year some 242,000 more people moved to the UK than left, after numbers leapt by around 45 per cent in just a year.

David Cameron has pledged to cut net immigration to the “tens of thousands” but the latest official figures show an upward trend in continuing instead.

And the rise has been partly driven by a sharp increase in the number of Eastern Europeans returning to the UK to look for work – a trend the Government’s recently imposed immigration cap cannot alter.

It has also been driven up by a 20 per cent fall in people emigrating, amid reports that many are put off by a rising cost of living abroad.

Separate figures, from the Office for National Statistics, showed one in five low-skilled jobs are now filled by migrants, fuelling concerns over jobs for British workers.

The quarterly review of immigration statistics also revealed the number of people granted settlement has increased by four per cent and asylum claims are up 11 per cent.

Some 344,000 people left the UK in the year to September, down 20 per cent in the 12 months to December 2008, according to the ONS.

But the number of migrants coming in to the UK remained constant at 586,000, taking net migration to 242,000, up from around 166,000 in mid-2009.

It is the fifth consecutive rise in net immigration, based on quarterly figures, over the last two years.

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: “These statistics show that immigration was out of control thanks to the old system – that is why we have already introduced radical changes to drive the numbers down and we will shortly be consulting on a range of new measures.”

The Government introduced a cap on the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU last month, as well as a crackdown on bogus students and those seeking to settle in the UK.

The ONS figures showed net migration – the number coming to the UK less the number leaving – of non-EU citizens rose by a third in the 12 months to September last year, up to 215,000 from 161,000 the previous year.

The number of non-EU migrants coming to the UK rose from 274,000 to 312,000 while the number leaving only dropped from 113,000 to 97,000.

But the number of migrants coming to the UK from the eight accession countries which joined the European Union in 2004 also rose significantly, up 72,000 in the 12 months to September last year from 45,000.

With a fall in those leaving from 57,000 to 29,000 over the same period, the flow of migrants switched from 12,000 leaving the UK to 43,000 arriving and is now at the same level seen in the year ending September 2008.

The number of migrants coming to the UK to study also continued to rise, up 30 per cent from 185,000 to 241,000.


Comment – May 26, 2011

This is bad news at a time when the economy is stagnant and competition for jobs is fiercer than ever. All the more so when one considers that one-in-five low paid jobs is already done by an immigrant.

So why haven’t Cameron’s government been able to make good on pre-election promises to reduce the record levels of immigration that had occurred under New Labour?

Could it be that David Cameron’s team is reading from the same book as Tony Blair’s? Is the Coalition following the same instructions as its predecessors and talk about immigration being “out of control thanks to the old system” is merely a ruse?

Is systematic failure being used to disguise the fact that the Coalition is following exactly the same agenda on immigration?

Whatever politicians may say they intend to do once elected the same trend has been ongoing for decades now. No matter who was in power, high levels of immigration into an already overcrowded island have continued unchecked.

Margaret Thatcher pledged to reduce the number of immigrants as part of her 1979 election campaign. Yet the 1979 Conservative Party Manifesto’s promise of “firm immigration control for the future” proved as hollow as any promise made by politicians.

Unfettered immigration continued and only got worse under Tony Blair and his successor Gordon Brown, despite rising public disquiet.

Now David Cameron’s promises are proving as hollow as his predecessors. How long before people wake up to the fact that their political leaders are following the dictates of a hidden few, regardless of the electorate’s wishes or the country’s best interests?

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