More migrants to UK since Brexit, Conservative Party has some explaining to do

Emergency services turn out for migrants on the Channel

NOS NewsThursday, 13:11

  • Fleur Launspach

    UK and Ireland correspondent

  • Fleur Launspach

    UK and Ireland correspondent

Instead of fewer immigrants, more have come to the UK since Brexit. Today, net migration figures show that since the take back control-promise that was crucial to leaving the European Union, more migrants have crossed the British border. The numbers have more than doubled since Brexit.

Immigration concerns played a prominent role in the 2016 referendum on European membership. According to many Leavevoters, the free movement of people within the European Union was problematic, especially in relation to Eastern European EU migrants working in Britain.

Official data now shows that 1.2 million people arrived in the UK last year. If you take into account the persons who have since departed (557,000), then 606,000 people were added to the national population last year.

Golf to students

According to experts, this increase is due to several factors. Due to immigration rules as a result of Brexit, the arrival of EU citizens fell considerably. But to compensate for the impact on the labor market, visa regulations for people from the rest of the world were relaxed, especially for workers with a high level of education.

There was also a wave of foreign students who came to the United Kingdom with their families. Although this group is very lucrative for British universities, the government – visibly panicked at the rising numbers – recently announced restrictions.

A third large group, good for about 160,000, consists of refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong. Just like last year, they entered the country under special arrangements.

Illegal boats

But the migrants we hear the most political noise about – the illegal crossing of the Channel – don’t even seem to be that big of a group when compared to these figures. Although these boats dominate the headlines, in the past year about 50,000 people were involved: a relatively small number of a total of 600,000 immigrants. In short, the record current immigration figures are mainly related to policy decisions of the current government, to students and the exodus from Hong Kong and Ukraine, and to a much lesser extent to illegal migrants on the Channel.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak therefore emphasizes that the war in Ukraine, among other things, creates unprecedented circumstances. He can also point out that more highly educated people are entering the country than in previous years.

Still, the record-high numbers are hard to explain for the Conservative Party, which has been over the past decade fewer immigration, as the core value of their manifesto.

Today’s figures will undoubtedly have political ramifications, including for UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, known for her fierce anti-immigration stance. Braverman frequently turned her attention to the “invasion of illegal boat migrants whose values ​​conflict with those of our country”. Moreover, she is the driving force behind the plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, which should be realized this summer.

Opposition Labour

Opposition leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, feels more confident than ever. “The Conservative Party has lost control of everything – the economy, public services, and now immigration,” he said during weekly question time in the House of Commons.

Labour’s own immigration policy is utterly unclear, but despite the risk of being pointed out, the party is on the offensive to portray the current Conservative government as incompetent.

#migrants #Brexit #Conservative #Party #explaining
2023-05-25 11:11:19

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