David Cameron’s pledge to cut immigration is in ruins after net annual migration soared to more than a quarter of a million.
Official figures this morning showed net migration rose to 260,000 in the 12 months to June, compared with 182,000 the previous year.
Before the election Mr Cameron promised to reduce the figure from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands and asked to be judged on whether he hit the target.
His Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Clegg, hit out at the Prime Minister today for undermining public confidence in the immigration system by “over-promising and under-delivering” on the issue.
Today’s figures show net migration is now running at higher levels than the Government inherited from Labour.
They will add to the pressure over immigration on the Prime Minister, who is set to outline proposals within days for limiting migration from the EU.
The bulk of the new arrivals are economic migrants from the EU – principally from Eastern Europe as well as Mediterranean countries – who have full entitlement to work in Britain.
Reacting to the figures, the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, said they were proof of the need to limit freedom of movement within the EU.
But Nick Clegg turned on Tory Coalition partners, saying that their failure to meet Mr Cameron’s migration target, which his party had opposed, would undermine public confidence in the immigration system.
“This was a Conservative preoccupation. They made that promise. They have now broken that promise and they will have to suffer the embarrassment of having done so,“ he said.
“It does damage public confidence in the immigration system by over-promising and under-delivering in this way.”
According to the Office for National Statistics, 583,000 people moved to the UK over the period, a “statistically significant increase” from the 502,000 in the previous 12 months. It included a 45,000 rise from the EU and 30,000 from outside the EU.
Net migration to the UK – the difference between those arriving and leaving – was 260,000 in the period, up from 182,000 in the previous 12 months, as 323,000 people emigrated from the country.
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The figures come after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, conceded at the weekend that flows from the EU had disrupted efforts to reduce the net annual figure to below 100,000 and it was “unlikely” the target would be reached by the end of this parliament.
10 things immigration has done for Britain
10 things immigration has done for Britain
1/10 The Mini
The 1959 classic, that is, perhaps our greatest piece of industrial design, a miracle of packaging and revolution in motoring. Its genius designer was Sir Alec Issigonis, who was an asylum seeker. His family, Greek, fled Smyrna when Turks invaded this borderland in around 1920, and he wound up studying engineering at Battersea Polytechnic. He went on to create that most English of motor cars, the Morris Minor, as well as the Austin-Morris 1100, all much loved products of his fertile imagination.
2/10 Marks and Spencer
Once upon a time there was no M&S in Britain, difficult as that may be to believe. We have one Michael Marks to thank for our most famous retailer, and he was a refugee from Belarus, arriving in England in about 1882, and soon after set off to flog stuff around Yorkshire. He eventually teamed with Thomas Spencer to create the vast business we know today.
And many other TV shows created, funded and otherwise produced by that largest of larger-than-life characters, Lew Grade (also a world class tap dancer). The man who dominated commercial television gave us memorable entertainment such as The Prisoner, the Saint and brought the Muppets to Britain (a sort of fuzzy felt wave of immigration), as well as puppet shows where you could see the strings. All this from a penniless Jew from Ukraine, born Lev Winogradsky, who escaped the pogroms in Ukraine with his family in the 1890s. His nephew Michael Grade has also done his bit for British television.
4/10 The House of Windsor
Or the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until George V prudently rebranded the family during the First World War. Well, our royals are a pretty German bunch, as well as having various types of French and other alien blue blood coursing around their veins. ‘Twas ever thus. There was William the Conqueror, Norman French, who certainly broke the immigration rules; William of Orange, a direct import from Holland; the Hanoverian King Georges, the first barely able to speak English; Queen Victoria, who married a German, Edward VII, who couldn’t stay faithful to his wife, a Danish princess; George V wed another German princess; Edward VIII married an American (though she hardly visited England and prompted his emigration and exile); and the Queen is married to man born in Corfu. The embodiment of the British nation, to many, but one thinks of them as quite multicultural really.
5/10 I Vow To Thee My Country
Our most patriotic hymn was the product of a man named Gustav Holst (pictured), born in Cheltenham, but of varied Swedish, Latvian and German ancestry, who adapted part of his suite The Planets to put a particularly stirring and beautiful poem to music, just after the Great War. As the second verse has it, “there's another country/I've heard of long ago/Most dear to them that love her/most great to them that know”. Imagine if the Holst family had been kept out because the quota on musical European types had been reached.
6/10 Curry and Cobra
Chicken Tikka Masala is, so they say, a dish which not only the most popular in Britain but specifically designed to cater for European tastes. For that we probably have to thank an Indian migrant, Sake Dean Mahomed, who came from Bengal to open the first recognisable Indian restaurant, the magnificently named “Hindoostanee Coffee House”. History does not record if a plate of poppadoms and accompanying selection of pickles and yoghurts were routinely placed on the table for new diners, but we do know that we had to wait until 1989 to taste the ideal lager for a curry - Cobra. That brew was brought to us by Karan (now Lord) Bilimoria, a Cambridge law graduate who hailed from Hyderabad.
7/10 That big red swirly sculpture at the Olympic Park
Or Orbit, to give it its proper name, the work of Anish Kapoor, who arrived in 1973 from India and had the artistic imagination to fill a power station.
8/10 The Sun
Love it or hate it, and many do both, this has been a symbol of much that is successful and a lot that is awful in British journalism since its inception in 1969. In its turn it spawned the Page 3 Girl and some nastily xenophobic headlines. All the stranger when you consider its creator was, of course, Rupert Murdoch, born 11 March 1931 in Melbourne, Australia.
OK, Karl Marx’s philosophy was not much of a gift to the world, but for a while it seemed like a good idea. Though we might not dare admit it, Marxism still has a few insights to offer to anyone wanting to understand the workings of capitalism, though too few to excuse everything that was done in its name. Born in Germany spent much time in the British museum and the British pub, buried Highgate Cemetery. Oddly, his ideas never really caught on in his adopted homeland.
10/10 The NHS
They came from many, many backgrounds, including Ireland, the Philippines, east Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and Africa, as they still do, but the contribution of the black nurses who came to the UK from the Caribbean to heal and care for is a debt of honour that must be recognised. It so sometimes forgotten that it was Enoch Powell, then Minister of Health (1960-62), who campaigned to recruit their skilled nurses to come and work over here. One abiding legacy we can thank Enoch for.
In separate figures, the ONS reported a significant increase, from 32,000 to 18,000 in numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians arriving in the UK.
The number of National Insurance numbers issued to foreign nationals rose by 12 per cent to 668,000 in the year highest numbers of National Insurance number registrations were issued to Romanians (104,000) and Poles (98,000).
Barbara Roche, chair of the cross-party group, the Migration Matters Trust, said: “Today’s migration figures carry a warning to all of the parties for the next election: promise what you can deliver and deliver what you promise.
“The public is already cynical about the mainstream parties’ policies on immigration and committing to unachievable targets makes matters worse.”
Carlos Vargas-Silva, acting director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The Government's own data showed in 2011 that their policies were not expected to reduce immigration by enough to hit the target.
“So we have been watching a result that we have expected for three years unfold in slow motion,” Dr Varga-Silva said.
“Increased EU net migration has certainly meant the degree by which the target is missed will be much higher, but it is clear that the target would have been missed with or without this increase, as non-EU net migration alone is way over 100,000.”