DAVID Cameron will today lay out major new plans to tackle immigration after the latest figures showed that it is higher than when he first became Prime Minister in 2010.
According to official figures from Office of National Statistics (ONS) there was a net flow of 260,000 migrants to the UK in the year running to June this year an increase from 182,000 the year before.
The rise represents a population increase around the size of Inverness in 12 months and comes as a major blow to Mr Cameron who had vowed to get immigration under control when he became prime minister.
The figure is 16,000 higher than it was in the year to June 2010 when Mr Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May took office.
In the 2010 election he said that voters should “judge” him on his record on immigration and “sack” him if he failed.
The Prime Minister has already said he intends to put limiting free movement within Europe at the heart of his negotiations on changing the UK’s membership terms for the EU.
And with the anti-EU party Ukip picking up two seats from the Tories in by-elections in Clacton and Rochester, Mr Cameron is under pressure to go further with the threat of more Tory MPs defecting to Nigel Farage’s party.
The figures mean that the Government has six months to deliver its pledge to slash net migration to the tens of thousands by the next general election - a target the Home Secretary conceded over the weekend was “unlikely”.
As well as a rise in the number of European Union migrants, arrivals from outside the EU also increased, damaging Government claims that it has made progress in tackling immigration in areas unaffected by the EU’s free movement rules.
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Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: “So much for Mr Cameron’s ‘no ifs, no buts’ promise. So much for their repeated pledge to reduce net migration to below 100,000.
“The impact on the NHS, schools, police, and other national infrastructure is immense, and the total Tory failure has now been exposed.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the figures showed that Mr Cameron has “spectacularly broken the promise he made to the British people” on net migration.
He said: “We are not going to make promises we can’t keep but we do have a plan to deal with people’s concerns, like saying you have to wait two years if you come into Britain from the EU to get benefits.”
Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Conservatives’ failure to meet their goal was an “embarrassment” to the party.
“This was a Conservative preoccupation. They made that promise. They have now broken that promise and they will have to suffer the embarrassment of having done so,” the Liberal Democrat leader said.
But Terry Scuoler, chief executive of the EEF manufacturers’ organisation, told a meeting in London that he hoped the Prime Minister would avoid “pandering” to the anti-EU lobby, and focus on the gains of freedom of movement.
He said: “There are important principles which we must seek to uphold amid an increasingly frenzied and sometimes overly emotional - not to mention factually inaccurate - debate on immigration in the UK.
“Freedom of movement is of enormous benefit to this country and the EU and most businesses do not want Government tinkering with this principle. You cannot have a single market with restrictions for some and not others.”
Some 583,000 people moved to the UK in the year ending in June, statisticians said, a “statistically significant increase” from 502,000 in the previous 12 months. The rise was driven by increases from the EU, which was up 45,000, and outside the EU, which was up 30,000.
Another “statistically significant increase” was recorded in Romanian and Bulgarian citizens arriving in the UK, rising to 32,000 from 18,000 the previous year.
Romanian citizens had the highest number of national insurance number registrations in the year to September - 104,000 - followed by Polish citizens at 98,000, the ONS said.
Restrictions to the labour market were lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians on January 1, prompting warnings of a looming surge of immigration from the two countries.
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