The 6 reasons why David Cameron's relentless pursuit of fewer immigrants is fundamentally flawed

Prime Minister has reiterated his determination to cut net immigration to the tens of thousands

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Indy Politics

Net immigration soared to 320,000 in 2014, the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics has shown, but David Cameron still insists he wants to see net migration cut to the tens of thousands. 

He blamed the Liberal Democrats for not "sharing" this ambition but said now he was in charge of a majority Conservative Government, the target of bringing net migration below 100,000 was "achievable".

His words are in danger of sounding delusional, coming at a time when Britain's buoyant growth, in comparison to other EU states, make it an attractive destination for those seeking work. Here are six reasons why continuing to pledge a cut in net immigration to the tens of thousands is a fundamentally flawed plan.

1. We have no control over EU immigration

Nearly half of all the 558,000 foreign-born migrants who came to the UK in 2014 were from other EU countries, which Mr Cameron has no control over as freedom of movement is a core principle of the EU.

Trying to cut the 268,000 EU migrants is therefore futile as long as Britain remains in the EU.

Number 10 considered trying to restrict freedom of movement rules as part of its renegotiation strategy but decided it was unachievable, opting instead to crackdown on 'pull factors' such as access to welfare.

Even if it was possible to restrict freedom of movement in the EU, it would be deeply unpopular, according to an opinion poll that found the freedom to travel, work and study anywhere in the EU was the most positive feature about the European Union.

2. A higher proportion of EU immigrants are in work than UK citizens.



3. And 'economic' reasons tops the list of why migrants come to the UK.

4. EU migrants contribute a net £20 billion to the UK economy.

Research by UCL economists found that migrants from the 15 'old' EU countries - including Germany, France and Spain - contributed 64 per cent more in taxes to UK finances than they received in benefits - a net £15 billion.

Meanwhile migrants from Eastern European countries, such as Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic, contributed 12 per cent more in taxes than they took in welfare - a net £5 billion.

In the same 10-year period, the net contribution of native UK-born citizens was negative, amounting to almost £617 billion.

5. A higher proportion of all immigrants are paying students than UK-born citizens, who contribute less towards their degree.

6. Economic growth and net immigration levels: a positive correlation?

It has become the norm to brand immigration as a negative economic force in the UK as net migration has soared to hundreds of thousands - and not the tens of thousands David Cameron promised back in 2010.

But do rising immigration levels really have such a negative impact on economic performance? These two graphs show how net immigration and economic growth have risen and fallen in tandem over the past 10 years, suggesting the increased numbers of migrants might not be having such a negative affect after all.