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

Technical Business Analyst/SQL Development - London - Permanent - £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

A Level & GCSEC Business Studies Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Science Teacher

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We require experienced and quali...

PE Teacher, Full Time Role, Gillingham School

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We are urgently seeking an exper...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Prime Minister’s Questions: Yah Miliband versus Boo Cameron

John Rentoul
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella  

Zoella is a great role model - she changed my life

Vicky Chandler
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London