James Slack, Daily Mail (London), February 16, 2014
Seven out of ten voters want immigration reduced or stopped completely, according to a poll released last night.
The YouGov survey found strong public concern about immigration, with people saying only the economy will be more important in the 2015 general election.
The poll also revealed six out of ten people believe it is essential that migrants should be able to speak English, while 67 per cent think British people should be given priority for jobs.
Net migration — the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and those emigrating — rose to 182,000 in the year to June, up from 167,000 in the previous 12 months.
Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to get this figure below 100,000 in the current Parliament.
According to the ONS, there are now 785,000 adults in the UK who are ‘non-proficient’ in English.
The poll was conducted for the Channel 5’s The Big British Immigration Row: Live, which will be screened tonight at 8pm.
Campaigners said the government must now listen and take firmer steps to reduce the number of incomers.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘This poll makes it crystal clear that the immigration lobby have decisively lost the battle for public opinion.
‘The public’s common sense has seen through their arguments. The political system must now respond.’
Some 70 per cent of voters said they want immigration reduced (49 per cent) or stopped completely (21 per cent).
Almost half of people who support the Liberal Democrats — the party most in favour of immigration — want a cut of halt in the number of new arrivals.
The poll also found 42 per cent of all respondents said immigration will be ‘important’ in deciding how they vote, putting the issue ahead of crime, the NHS, welfare, housing and Europe.
Some 42 per cent of those surveyed also feel that immigration is bad for the economy, compared to 25 per cent who said it was good.
A total of 44 per cent believe that immigrants do not contribute to the British way of life, compared to 39 per cent who gave a positive response, and nearly two-thirds of the country is worried about immigration levels.
Six out of then believe that people coming to live and work in this country should wait a longer period of time — more than a year — before using free public services such as the NHS.
A majority of supporters of all three major parties, plus UKIP, said it was vital that migrants should learn English.
Those who could speak English had a lower employment rate — 48.3 per cent — and were more than three times as likely to report no qualifications (46.2 per cent) as those with English as their main language.
Channel 5’s director of programming, Ben Frow said: ‘These survey results demonstrate that immigration is at the top of the agenda in today’s Britain.’