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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism