Blow For Rishi Sunak As Revised Migration Stats Reach Historic Heights

Sunak has confirmed no planes will be taking off for Rwanda this side of the election.
PM Rishi Sunak at a campaign event on Thursday.
PM Rishi Sunak at a campaign event on Thursday.
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images

Revised net migration figures have revealed that Britain recorded the highest number of migrants ever when Rishi Sunak got into Downing Street.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows previous estimates for 2022 were an underestimate – raising net migration from 745,000 to 764,000, a historic high.

That’s more than treble the net migration of 184,000 seen in 2019.

The news comes the day after Rishi Sunak called a general election for July 4, where he will be putting his attempts to bring down migration at the front and centre of his campaign.

But, there is a small glimmer of hope for the PM in the more recent data.

The provisional stats for 2023 suggest migration numbers have dropped off slightly overall.

Supposedly, 1.2 million people moved to the UK and 532,000 left, putting provisional net migration at 685,000.

If these estimates prove correct, it does mean long-term net migration fell between 2022 and 2023 by 10%.

The ONS said: “While it is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend, emigration increased in 2023, while new Home Office data show visa applications [for students and care workers] have fallen in recent months.”

Home secretary James Cleverly said the data proved the Conservatives’ plan was “working” adding: “We must stick to the plan, not go back to square one.”

But, that 2023 provisional estimate is still a historic high, even with the revisions to 2022.

Overall net migration is higher by around 200,000 to 300,000 people per year than the numbers seen prior to both the pandemic and the EU referendum.

Much of this increase comes from non-EU workers moving to the UK for employment, according to the ONS, which also says work visas made up 41% of non-EU immigration last year while asylum claims make up 8%.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper slammed the data, describing it as proof as “Tory chaos and failure on immigration”.

She added: “Net migration has more than trebled since Rishi Sunak and his party promised to get it down at the last election.”


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