New net migration figures released today showed a sharp rise in the number of people coming to the UK, leaving a Tory pledge to control immigration in tatters with just 69 days to go until the general election.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire admitted that the ONS figures were “disappointing”, while Nick Clegg and the pro-immigration thinktank Bright Blue said it showed why targets for migration are such a bad idea.
Bright Blue’s director Ryan Shorthouse said that by continuing to set and then miss “arbitrary” targets, the Government was actually contributing to “public concerns about immigration”.
But aside from the fact that efforts to control it appear to have failed, what does the British public really think about immigration?
The polling company ComRes released a survey today in conjunction with ITV News that shows that while Britons generally think immigration is bad for the economy and the NHS, most actually don’t see it as having an impact on them personally or their ability to find a job.
In an indication that their views may be formed by general anti-immigration rhetoric rather than public experience, less than one in four felt an influx of people to the UK was bad for “me personally”.
Over 40 per cent said they didn’t think immigration had an impact on their ability to get employment – a common complaint among those who call for tougher controls – compared to 35 per cent who said it was “bad”.
British sport was the only field in which the majority felt immigration had a positive influence, however. Just 14 per cent felt it was “bad” in this case.
And in terms of public bodies and society, people felt that the NHS was the worst-affected by immigration, with 55 per cent seeming to subscribe to the argument that it puts a negative strain on services.
On its impact on culture and British society, slightly more (42 per cent) felt it was bad than good (38 per cent). The issue proved particularly divisive, however, with just 8 per cent saying it had no impact and 12 per cent saying they “didn’t know”.
Around 40 per cent of people felt immigration has a bad impact on the economy, compared to 36 per cent who felt it was good.
And finally, exactly the same proportion of people felt immigration was bad for their local communities as thought it had no impact at all (34 per cent for both).
ComRes also asked people which political party they “trust most to control immigration”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority backed Ukip (36 per cent) to do so, followed by the Tories, Labour and lastly the Lib Dems (4 per cent).Reuse content