DAVID Cameron has failed to deliver on his pledge to slash net migration to the tens of thousands before the general election, as the last batch of official figures before 7 May revealed another surge in arrivals.
There was a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the year to September – equivalent to about half the population of Glasgow – and up from 210,000 in the previous 12 months, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The increase in net migration, despite the Prime Minister’s pledge, was driven by a “statistically significant” rise in immigrants arriving in the UK – up to 624,000 in the year to September from 530,000 in the previous 12 months. About 327,000 people emigrated from the UK in the same period.
Yesterday’s figures are the final nail in the coffin for the promise made by Mr Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to slash net migration to below 100,000 by the end of the current parliamentary term.
There were significant increases in immigration of non-European Union citizens, up 49,000 to 292,000, and of EU citizens, up 43,000 to 251,000.
Experts flagged another statistically significant increase in Romanian and Bulgarian citizens arriving in the UK – up to 37,000 from 24,000 in the previous 12 months. Of these, 27,000 were coming for work, a rise of 10,000 on the year ending September 2013, the ONS said.
Around 271,000 people came to the UK for work, up 54,000 on a year earlier, while immigration for study rose from 175,000 to 192,000.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “UK job growth is likely to be a key factor behind the recent increases.
“If the UK’s economic performance compared to the rest of the EU had been poor, then we might well have seen net migration fall, but that has not happened.
“Rising work-related migration from outside the EU has also contributed.”
Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think tank, said: “The ONS statistics have become a quarterly reminder to the public of why they don’t trust politicians on immigration, thanks to the net migration target.
“If the Prime Minister remains in denial about the broken target, he is setting himself up for five more years of failure. It is already clear there is next to no chance of meeting the same target in the next parliament either.”
Migrants’ Rights Network director Don Flynn said: “The latest migration figures reflect Britain’s growing economy and should not be used by the political parties as a launch-pad for their negative political campaigns shifting the blame for wider problems on to migrants.
“What these numbers show is that Britain is more than ever an outward-facing, globalised country with a diverse and hardworking population from overseas.
“However, we fear that the political debate ahead of the general election will fail to reflect that contemporary reality in any meaningful way.”
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