UK

Immigration Statistics Showing Record Net Levels 'Reveal Idiocy' Of David Cameron's Target, Expert Says

26/11/2015 12:47 GMT | Updated 26/11/2015 12:59 GMT

The latest statistics showing a record level of net immigration to Britain reveal the "idiocy" of David Cameron's target to drastically bring it down, and merely confirm those arriving are coming here to work, one of Britain's leading experts on immigration has claimed.

Net migration - the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving - stood at 336,000 in the year to June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on Thursday.

This was a jump of 82,000 compared to the year to June 2014 and the highest estimate on record.

Analysing today's data, Manchester University academic Dr Rob Ford said most of those arriving were coming from "old" EU countries such as Spain, rather than more recent admissions to the EU in eastern Europe, saying the number of immigrants arriving from those countries had "flattened off".

Dr Ford suggested Britain was getting a "good deal" with Spain, to which many older Britons retire while many younger Spanish people come here to work.

The numbers are a fresh headache for Cameron, who has pledged to cut net immigration to less than 100,000 "no ifs, no buts".

But immigration expert Dr Ford said the increase was partly due to fewer people leaving Britain rather more immigrants arriving, which he said was "not a bad thing":

A total of 636,000 immigrants arrived over the 12-month period, compared with 574,000 in the previous 12 months. The numbers emigrating fell to 300,000, compared with 320,000 in the previous 12 months.

But he had a warning for both immigration liberals and sceptics, saying those favouring unconditionally accepting mass immigration had to accept the current level was "unprecedented" and those opposing it had to accept that work was by far the most common reason for it.

The ONS said 46% of the 636,000 people who immigrated over the 12 months did so for work, while 30% did so to study.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said: "The last two set of figures show record levels of EU immigration which show why the prime minister is right to negotiate with the EU to reform welfare to reduce the financial incentives that attract EU migrants to the UK."

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “Most the measures introduced over the last parliament to reduce net migration of workers, students and family members have now been in place for some years.

"At this point, changes in net migration are mainly being driven by economic factors like the success of the UK economy, rather than by new policies.”

She added: “Despite an increase in the number of asylum applications in the UK over the summer, refugees and asylum seekers still represent only 5% of non-British immigration. Migration for work and study remain by far the largest categories.”

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