Home Office officials fear soon-to-be released immigration statistics will show net migration into the U.K. topping 1 million, despite numerous pledges by Britain’s governing Conservative party over the past decade to significantly reduce the numbers.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures due to be published on May 25 are expected to show a huge increase in new arrivals, far above the previous peak of 504,000 recorded in the year to June 2022.
Home Office data already show that more than 1.3 million people arrived in Britain last year, many of whom received work permits or student visas, meaning the net migration figure will be determined by the number of people emigrating from the country.
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Experts at the Center for Policy Studies (CPS) have forecast the net figure to be between 700,000 and 997,000, while a second analysis estimates a more conservative figure of between 650,000 and 675,000.
“If emigration has reverted to pre-pandemic and pre-Brexit patterns, we could see net migration hit the one million mark,” Karl Williams, a CPS senior researcher told The Telegraph. “This would be at the very top end of our estimates but by no means an implausible figure,” he added.
Either way, the figure will show an exponential rise in immigration into a country that has voted for Conservative governments since 2010 that initially ran on a ticket of reducing net migration to the “tens of thousands.” This pledge was eventually dropped by the incumbent Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, despite Brits generally opposing the rate of immigration experienced over the past decade.
In a YouGov poll published in December last year, 57 percent of respondents said the level of immigration into Britain over the last 10 years has been too high. In contrast, just 7 percent said it had been too low.
Brits have continuously voted in favor of reducing immigration, backing the Conservative Party as the largest party in parliament during the last four general elections. The British electorate also voted in favor of withdrawing from the European Union in 2016, with a key pledge from the Leave campaign being to “take back control of our borders.” In the final European parliamentary elections before the U.K.’s formal withdrawal, Brits also overwhelmingly supported the pop-up Brexit Party.
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The soon-to-be-published immigration figures could be hugely damaging for Rishi Sunak’s administration, which is already between 16 and 19 percentage points behind the Labour Party according to the most recent polling.
The figures will also enrage a number of backbench Conservative MPs who have long called for more restrictive border controls. “Population growth at this level is unsustainable. The government needs to act immediately and radically to curb migration,” said influential Conservative backbencher Sir John Hayes.
Earlier this year, the Conservative party presented a new immigration bill to parliament, which would see all people who arrive in Britain illegally detained and deported.
The bill, however, is fraught with complications, not least its compliance with Britain’s international obligations, namely the European Convention on Human Rights.
The country’s asylum system is now so saturated, the government is spending more than £6 million of taxpayers’ cash every day to house asylum seekers in hotels. The government recently announced its intention to relocate many of these individuals from their expensive hotel accommodations to disused military bases and floating barges due to public outrage at the ongoing saga.