Net migration jumps by nearly a quarter of a million

Tories' efforts to reduce migration thwarted

Deputy Political Editor

David Cameron’s promise to slash migration levels was in ruins tonight after official figures revealed another sharp rise in new arrivals to Britain.

Net migration jumped to 243,000 in the year to March, a rise of 68,000 mainly driven by larger numbers of European Union nationals coming to the UK.

Mr Cameron and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, have set a target of reducing the figure to “tens of thousands” by next May’s general election and have refused to abandon it.

The latest rise sets the scene for the spotlight to be turned on immigration ahead of the general election.

A series of fresh Government measures limiting new arrivals’ access to public services come into effect in the autumn.

However, nearly two thirds of the increase (44,000) reported by the Office for National Statistics was accounted for by new EU arrivals, an influx over which ministers have little control.

An extra 16,000 Romanians and Bulgarians came to this country following the lifting in January of restrictions to the British labour market for the two countries and there were increases in workers from southern European states such as Italy and Portugal.

There was also a rise, from 246,000 to 265,000, in the total of non-EU citizens arriving in the UK.

Overall a total of 560,000 immigrants arrived over the period, a rise of 68,000, while an estimated 316,000 people left the country.

The ONS said the net migration figure represented a “statistically significant increase” from the net migration total of 175,000 the previous year.

The Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: “Uncontrolled, mass immigration makes it difficult to maintain social cohesion, puts pressure on public services and forces down wages. That’s why our focus remains on controlling migration at sustainable levels.

“Our reforms have cut net migration by a quarter since the peak under the last Government - and have led to net migration from outside the EU falling to levels not seen since the 1990s.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “David Cameron promised "no ifs, no buts" that net migration would fall to the tens of thousands. Instead it has gone up by nearly 70,000 in the last year.

“This massive gap between Government rhetoric and the reality, as well as no serious action to tackle the root causes of anxiety about immigration, is destroying public trust and confidence.”

The IPPR think-tank challenged all political parties to put their emphasis on making immigration fairer rather than on cutting numbers.

Tim Finch, its associate director, said the UK was now in a “steady state” of net migration of more than 200,000 per year and pledges to reduce it below 100,000 in the next Parliament will not be meaningful.

Sunder Katwala, the director of think-tank British Future, said: “It’s little wonder public trust on immigration is so low when the Government is wedded to a target it clearly can’t meet. It’s impossible now to find anyone who thinks they can actually achieve it, in this parliament or the next.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
Life and Style
life
Sport
Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring the winner for Aston Villa
football
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
News
Bill O'Reilly attends The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media Celebration at The Four Seasons Restaurant on April 16, 2014 in New York City
media It is the second time he and the channel have clarified statements
News
people
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn