Nearly three quarters of Britons think there are too many immigrants in the country, a survey revealed yesterday.
The international poll, by IPSOS Mori, put the UK third highest in a league table of 23 countries according to concerns about migrant numbers.
And it showed Britain topped the table of countries according to concerns over the impact of migrants on public services.
Some 76 per cent of those questioned said immigration had put too much pressure on hospitals, transport services and schools.
The poll exposes the huge on-going scale of public worry over migration levels in recent years.
Under Labour’s open door immigration policy, the population was boosted by more than 3.2 million arrivals from overseas.
Home Secretary Theresa May has made clear her determination to reduce net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’.
But the task of the coalition government in trying to get migrant numbers down to manageable levels has been made harder by a recent spike in new arrivals.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think tank said: ‘Concern in Britain is almost the highest in the world.
‘This is a measure of the chaotic legacy of three million immigrants admitted by the previous government.
‘The poll is a timely reminder that the present government must keep its pledge to get immigration down to tens of thousands or pay a very heavy price with public opinion.’
Last year net immigration–the difference between those arriving and those leaving–rose to near record levels.
In the year to September 2010 it hit 242,000, the third highest on record and the fastest rate since Eastern European countries joined the EU seven years ago and were allowed to come and work in the UK.
The Global @dvisor survey compared attitudes to immigration in 23 countries including the USA, India and Brazil.
Some 71 per cent of Britons agreed there are ‘too many immigrants in our country’. Only Russians (77 per cent) and Belgians (72 per cent) were more concerned about migrant numbers.
Bottom of the list was Japan where just 15 per cent agreed.
A total of 76 per cent of Britons agreed immigration had put too much pressure on public services, putting this country top of the table ahead of Spain (70 per cent), Belgium (68 per cent) and the US (66 per cent).
Britain was third in the table of attitudes to migrant workers and jobs. Sixty-two per cent said migrants meant it was more difficult to find jobs in Britain. In Russia the figure was 75 per cent and South Africa 64 per cent.
Just one in four (27 per cent) said immigration was good for the economy. One third (33 per cent) of Britons agreed that migrants made the country a more interesting place to live. In Brazil the figure was 49 per cent and Australia 46 per cent.
Ipsos MORI spokesman Ashish Prashar said: ‘Clearly people in Britain are concerned how immigration is affecting their employment opportunities; the strain on public services; and impact on a sluggish economy. These concerns are also reflected in many countries around the world.’
A survey by the department for Communities and Local Government this year found more than half the population want to see numbers coming from abroad to live in Britain reduced by ‘a lot’.
A Home Office cap on the number of migrant workers allowed in from outside the EU came into force in April.
Ministers have also pledged to crackdown on bogus students and colleges, and tighten rules on who can settle in the UK.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘For too long immigration was allowed to get out of control and we are taking action to reduce net migration back to the tens of thousands.
‘In the past year we have introduced an annual limit on the number of non-European workers able to come to the UK and overhauled student visas.
‘We are currently consulting on restricting settlement rights and the family route.’