THERESA MAY goes into the General Election able to confirm that since she has become Prime Minister, net immigration has begun to fall. It didn’t fall while she was the Home Secretary responsible – but she may not want to allude to that bit.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has today announced that net migration in 2016 was 248,000 – that’s a drop of 84,000 on 2015. Six months of that year come after the Brexit referendum – a time which was not good for immigrants.
•Racist attacks and abuse against immigrants rose after the referendum, making the UK feel like a less welcoming and possibly dangerous place to live.
•Economic uncertainty made the UK less attractive, as there was uncertainty over employment in general and some firms were hinting that they would curtail or even abandon their UK operations.
The figures show that 117,000 EU citizens left the UK during the year – that’s 31,000 more than in 2015, a significant contribution to the net decrease. The number of people coming to work in the UK also declined – from 308,000 in 2015 to 275,000 in 2016.
One of the arguments put forward by those who want net migration to decline even further is that the UK is “full” and cannot take the extra population. The ONS has also reported that the number of live births in England and Wales in 2015 (the latest year and place for which figures are easily available) was 697,852. This would suggest that those who are worried about the country filling up should turn their attention away from immigration and towards the birth figures.
Banning people from having children would have a bigger impact on population figures than trying to bring down immigration. But they probably won’t do that, will they? No, thought not.