UK: immigration at record high, despite Brexit

UK: immigration at record high, despite Brexit

| Friday 26 May 2023

This was one of the main promises of Brexit: the divorce from the European Union would make it possible to "regain control" over immigration to the United Kingdom, assured the supporters of "Leave" , during the campaign referendum of 2016. And yet, seven years later, net migration – the difference between immigration and emigration over the twelve months of the year – has practically doubled. While it stood at 335,000 in 2016, it reached the historic level of 606,000 in 2022, with 118,000 net arrivals more than in 2021. Figures published Thursday, May 25by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). This record poses a serious problem for the conservative government of Rishi Sunak, unable to reconcile its anti-migrant discourse with a complex economic and social reality.

The humanitarian reception of Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression (around 114,000) and Hong Kongers refusing China's authoritarian takeover (around 52,000) drove the figures up. Just like the issuance of student and work visas. The ONS suggests that this clear upward trend may be slowing, as the number of humanitarian arrivals has fallen in recent months. The net migration figures "are too high" , admitted Rishi Sunak on Thursday on the ITV channel, adding that he wanted to "lower them" , without however indicating by how much.

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