Net immigration dips to 270,000 a year as EU inflows fall

Immigration from the EU falls to lowest level since 2012 at 87,000 a year but overall inflows to the UK are still running at 270,000 – nearly TREBLE the government’s target

  • Net immigration has dipped to 270,000 a year after fall in arrivals from the EU
  • Overall inflow from bloc was 87,000 in 12 months to March, lowest since 2012 
  • Theresa May insists she wants to see total net migration fall below 100,000 

Net immigration from the EU has dropped to its lowest level in more than five years – but overall inflows to Britain are still running a nearly treble the government’s target. 

Amid fevered speculation over a ‘Brexodus’, figures showed a net 87,000 people came to the UK from the bloc over in the year to March.

The level is down from a high of 189,000 in the 12 months leading up to the EU referendum, the lowest recorded since January 2012.

But arrivals from European countries are still adding to the UK population, according to the latest information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – and the easing has been largely offset by an increase in those coming from elsewhere.

In total, the difference between long-term arrivals in the UK and people leaving was 270,000 during the period – down by around 10,000 on the previous quarter.

Theresa May has insisted she wants to see the figure drop below 100,000 a year.

Amid fevered speculation over a ‘Brexodus’, figures showed a net 87,000 people came to the UK from the bloc over in the year to March

ONS statistician Nicola Rogers said: ‘Today’s figures show that around 270,000 more people are coming to the UK than leaving, so net migration is continuing to add to the UK population. 

‘Net migration has been broadly stable since peak levels seen in 2015 and 2016.

‘Looking at the underlying numbers we can see that EU net migration has fallen, as fewer EU citizens are arriving in the UK, and has now returned to the level last seen in 2012.’ 

Year-on-year, net migration was up by just under 30,000, but statisticians attributed the rise to an anomaly in previous estimates of student immigration. 

In contrast to immigration from the EU, inflows from outside the bloc have been rising.

The latest figures show a net 235,000 came from non-EU countries – up from 165,000 in the year to September 2016. 

The latest figures came after a report found immigration was responsible for more than four fifths of the unprecedented surge in Britain’s population this century.

Some 82 per cent of the huge rise from 2001 to 2016 can be attributed to the arrival of immigrants and, subsequently, their UK-born children, according to research by the think-tank MigrationWatch.

Its study has exposed how the impact of immigration has been understated, and claims that of the 6.6million extra people added to the population during those 15 years, 5.4million were the result of mass immigration – the biggest ever wave of incomers.

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Because the ONs failed to count 2.3million children born to foreign parents as migrants – giving a lower total of 3.1million, or 47 per cent of the rise – the effect of the previous Labour government’s open-door policy was not calculated correctly.

MigrationWatch, which carried out the study using official data, said it was undeniable that the huge scale of net migration had driven population growth. It said that after Labour made it easier for migrants to come to Britain, the face of the country changed as public services including schools and hospitals came under pressure and wages fell.

Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of the think-tank, which campaigns for tighter immigration controls, said the paper ‘shone a light on this elephant in the room’.

He said it demonstrated it was ‘simply not possible to discuss the state of our public services without considering immigration as a major factor’, adding: ‘The Government have been remarkably coy about the true impact of immigration on our public services. It is almost as if officialdom preferred to avoid the issue as far as they possibly can.

‘This has meant that very few people realise that over 80 per cent of our population increase in recent years has been due to immigration.

‘The Government must get serious about reducing numbers.

Net immigration has dipped to 270,000 a year as numbers coming from the EU fall, official figures revealed today

Around 82 per cent of the huge rise from 2001 to 2016 can be attributed to the arrival of immigrants and their UK-born children (file photo)

‘Immigration on the current scale is rapidly changing the size and nature of our society.’

In its most recent publication, the ONS stated that 59 per cent of a 392,000 year-on-year rise from 2016 to 2017 occurred due to net migration. It attributes the remainder to the excess of births over deaths as people live longer.

Over the period covered by the report, estimates of the number of people living in the UK went up from 59.1million to 65.7million. 

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are committed to bringing net migration down to sustainable levels. There is no consent in Britain for uncontrolled immigration.

‘After we leave the EU we will end free movement and put in place a system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK.

‘We are considering options that ensure we are in control of our borders and managing migration, while continuing to attract and retain people who come here to work and bring significant benefits.’

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