Immigration is now seen as the most important issue facing the country along with the economy, according to an Ipsos-MORI poll for The Economist. In January 2013 concern about economy was 30% higher than immigration.
The findings come after months of press coverage about migration from Romania and Bulgaria. The period has also seen Nigel Farage's anti-immigration Ukip exert huge influence over the political debate.
The poll may worry the Labour Party, which is unlikely to want to have to fight an election on immigration. Former front bencher Diane Abbott told HuffPost UK the issue was "not terrain we can win on".
Bobby Duffy, from Ipsos-MORI, said: "This is the first time since 2008 that immigration – or indeed any issue except the economy – has come top of people’s concerns about the country. And the shift has been pretty quick – a year ago there was massive gap between the two, with 52% saying the economy was a top issue, and only 22% picking out immigration.
"This reflects the fact that when the economy goes wrong, it swamps all other concerns – but that doesn’t mean the other issues have gone away. Given the easing of economic concerns and the huge media focus on immigration in recent weeks, it’s not at all surprising that immigration is now again at the top of our list of national issues."