Leading article: Don't mourn the new British diaspora

Share

Our political discourse tends to focus so relentlessly on the question of how many people are coming into our country that the other side of the migration equation is often overlooked. So just how many people are leaving Britain each year? The answer is more than ever before. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics reveal that some 360,000 Britons emigrated last year. This is a substantial rise on the 236,000 leaving 10 years ago.

There is, of course, no single reason why so many people are choosing to leave Britain. As we show today, many emigrate to Australia for what they think will be a higher quality of life. Some, academics in particular, are moving to America to take advantage of higher salaries and greater professional opportunities. An increasing number of couples are cashing in on high property prices in the UK to buy retirement homes in Europe.

None of this need be a cause for concern. There is no shortage of skilled, enthusiastic immigrants ready to take the place of those leaving. For every jaded Briton hoping to start a new life Down Under there is a Polish plumber coming over to repair our leaky pipes. The time to worry will be when the British population starts to decline as a result of emigration.

Britain has a strong tradition of emigration. From the earliest days of empire, people have journeyed abroad to seek their fortune or to practice their religion in peace. In the 19th century it was actively promoted by the governments of the day. So from this perspective, what we are witnessing today is nothing new.

Yet there is an added significance to these latest figures. They reflect the fact that, even in the past half decade, travel has become cheaper and communications swifter. Technological globalisation has made people more likely to leave their home country to work abroad. Since the world feels smaller than in the past, leaving home has become less of a strain. And notwithstanding the obsessions of Little Englanders, there has also been something of a globalisation in outlook. Britons today, particularly the young, feel less inhibited about living and working abroad. They are also more open to other cultures.

This trend is likely to continue. We suspect that in coming years the imbalance between news stories about immigration and emigration will be redressed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Management Support Assistant

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...

Sauce Recruitment: FP&A Analyst -Home Entertainment

£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...

Recruitment Genius: Sales and Account Manager - OTE £80,000+

£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - Kent - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Ukip on the ropes? Voters don’t think so

Stefano Hatfield
'One minute he cares desperately about his precious things, the next he can’t remember them'  

I repeat things over and over in the hope they’ll stay with him

Rebecca Armstrong
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project