Migration to Britain reaches record high

AFP , Thursday 26 Nov 2015

Migration to Britain has reached a new record high, according to official data released Thursday that could make uncomfortable viewing for the government of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Immigration is one of Britain's most sensitive political issues and Cameron has vowed to curb it, with concerns over border control key to support for leaving the European Union ahead of a referendum on membership due next year.

The official metric of migration, which calculates the balance between people arriving and leaving, found that there was net migration to Britain of 336,000 in the year to June, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This was the highest estimate on record and a jump of 32 percent on the figure for net migration in the previous year period.

"Net migration has increased over the last year for both EU and non-EU nationals, with the majority of people migrating to the UK coming for work or study," said Jay Lindop, head of population statistics at ONS.

Net migration of European Union citizens was up over 30 percent compared to the last year period, while the rise of net migration from outside the EU was also significant at 22 percent.

The figures may renew focus on a promise by the Conservative party to cut net migration to just tens of thousands.

The UK Independence Party, which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU so that it can reduce immigration, said that the figures were an argument in favour of voting for Britain to leave the 28-member bloc in the referendum promised by 2017.

"These record high figures represent a continuation of the government's complete failure to control immigration," said UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

"It is clear that only by voting to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum can we have a system of controlled immigration at sensible levels."

Opinion polls have indicated an uptick in support for Britain leaving the EU, but most surveys still show greater support for staying within it.

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