Matthew Holehouse, Telegraph (London), May 22, 2014
EU immigration to Britain has risen by 43,000 in the past year, in figures that were seized on by Ukip on the day of European and local elections.
David Cameron has been accused by Nigel Farage of breaking a “solemn promise” to voters after a “significant” increase in European citizens immigrating to Britain.
Some 201,000 EU citizens immigrated to the UK in the year ending December 2013, a rise on the 158,000 the previous year. The change is “statistically significant”, the Office for National Statistics said.
Meanwhile, overall net migration–the difference between migrants leaving and arriving in the UK–rose to 212,000 in the period, from 177,000 the previous year.
There was a “statistically significant” increase in immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria, the ONS said–23,000, up from 9,000 the previous year.
An estimated 122,000 people from those countries were working in the UK between January and March of this year, compared with 103,000 in the same period in 2013.
Ukip may come first, according to polls published last night.
The figures are a blow to David Cameron, with migration running at more than double his manifesto target of “tens of thousands” by next year’s general election.
David Cameron yesterday refused to repeat his pledge to radically cut migrant numbers, raising the prospect the pledge could be dropped from the Conservative manifesto.
The 2010 manifesto promised to cut net migration to “tens of thousands”.
“You’ll see the manifesto when we publish it,” he said, when asked on a visit to Newark whether the promise would appear in the party’s platform next year.
Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, said Mr Cameron had broken a “solemn promise to the British people on one of the most important political issues”.
“We are seeing a very significant surge in immigration into the British labour market from Romania and Bulgaria as well as a more general rise in EU immigration, just as I forecast. We simply cannot go on like this if we are to even begin the task of restoring the living standards and community cohesion available to millions of hardworking British families. Enough’s enough.”
Last week Anna Soubry, the defence minister, became the first member of the government to acknowledge the 100,000 target is unlikely to be hit. “At the moment we don’t seem to be on course,” she conceded.
Last weekend Mr Cameron five times declined to say if he was sticking to the manifesto commitment, instead only saying the Conservatives were “working towards” the target.
James Brokenshire, Immigration and Security Minister, said: “Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on our public services and forces down wages for people on low incomes.
“While recent net migration levels remain stable the figures show that it has fallen by a third since its peak in 2005 under the last government and that this government’s reforms have cut net- migration from outside the EU to levels not seen since the late 1990s.
“We are building an immigration system that is fair to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tough on those who abuse the system or flout the law. We want to ensure that people come to the UK for the right reasons–to work hard and contribute to our economy and society.”