Poll Suggests British Attitudes to Migration Based More on Culture Than Race

Dan Kitwood/Getty

Brits believe some non-white migrant groups have made more of a positive impact on the country than other, predominantly white, groups in a poll indicating the nation is not, by and large, racist in its views on immigration.

‏Respondents also perceived a large difference between migrants from India and Pakistan, both from south Asian ethnic groups, indicating culture rather than race is important for many Brits.

On the 25th and 26th of April, YouGov asked 1,668 British adults: “Overall, do you think immigrants from each of the following parts of the world make a positive or negative contribution to life in Britain today?”

The most highly rated migrant groups were those often said to be well integrated or with strong cultural, geographic, or historical ties to the UK, namely Australians (+45), Irish (+40), Germans (+38), Americans (+36), Polish migrants (+28), those from India (+25), and Jamaicans (+18).

Those who rated more negatively were more recently arrive groups or those often considered not very well integrated. They are Pakistanis (-2), Bangladeshis (-3), Nigerians (-11), Romanians (-18), and Somalis (-21).

Analysing the data on Twitter, Professor Matthew Goodwin, a Fellow at Chatham House, commented:

“I have no doubt that for some voters race is a major factor but it is also clearly wrapped up with other things too, the imagined British community, history, empire etc.”

The same poll revealed that most people think immigration has been too high over the past ten years and that 71 per cent of people back the government’s “hostile environment” to illegal migrants after the so-called Windrush scandal.

It also gave an indication as to what voters want the UK’s immigration system to look like after Brexit, when the UK takes back control of its borders.

People were most supportive of bringing in National Health Service (NHS) workers (+63), international students (+57), highly educated and/or skilled workers (+53), and wealthy investors (+41).

Less popular were refugees (+26) and relatives of existing migrants (+4). Migrants with a low level of education and/or skill were drastically significantly less popular (-26).


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.