‘Take Back Control’? – UK Net Immigration Rises to 313,000, Driven by Non-EU Arrivals

UXBRIDGE, ENGLAND - MAY 08: (Alternate crop of #472458768) Boris Johnson, Conservative can
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Net immigration reached an estimated 313,000 in the year from March 2019, leaving the Conservatives’ pledge to reduce the migrant inflow even further from being realised.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, based on outgoing International Passenger Survey (IPS) estimates which likely understate the true scale of the influx, indicate that “715,000 people moved to the UK (immigration) and around 403,000 people left the UK (emigration)” over the period, with EU migrants down from their peak but arrivals still outstripping departures by 58,000.

The major driver of demographic change, however, comes from non-EU migrants — which, unlike EU migration, the British government has always been able to control, for the most part.

Non-EU migration over the year was an astonishing 437,000, with 121,000 leaving the UK for a net influx of 316,000 — “[one] of the highest levels seen since International Passenger Survey (IPS) records began for this group in 1975,” according to the ONS.

“The latest net migration figures from the ONS are shocking, if not surprising,” commented Alp Mehmet, chairman of the migration-sceptic Migration Watch UK think tank.

“The record level of net non-EU migration is an indication of the scale of the problem and what the government needs to control and reduce. The proposed points-based system will do nothing of the sort; if anything, the inflow of migrants from around the world will increase,” he added.

Migration Watch UK has long proposed that Boris Johnson’s plan to introduced an “Australian-style points-based immigration system”, long demanded by the likes of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and the Conservative Party’s own grassroots supporters, will in fact only exacerbate Britain’s mass immigration problem, as it is missing the Australian system’s key feature: an annual cap on the total inflow.

It is possible that this is a feature of the new policy rather than a bug, however, as despite the Conservative Party’s frequent employment of pro-borders messaging, few in its upper echelons are actually opposed to mass immigration.

Indeed, former chancellor George Osborne revealed in 2017 that “[N]one of [the Cabinet’s] senior members” supported a long-standing but never achieved party pledge to reduce net immigration “from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands” in private, “and all would be glad to see the back of something that has caused… such public grief.”

Scrapping the “tens of thousands” pledge was one of Boris Johnson’s first acts as Prime Minister.

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