Net migration from the bloc would be unlikely to fall below 155,000 a year in the medium term in those circumstances, with the scope for a “significant reduction” in the number “extremely limited” if Britain remains subject to free movement of people.
Net migration was at a near-record estimated level of 335,000 in the year to the end of June. Net migration for EU citizens was 189,000, the highest ever recorded.
EU leaders have insisted the UK will not be allowed to remain in the single market without accepting free movement. Migration Watch, which campaigns for tighter immigration controls, said it was “not possible” to stay in the single market and control of EU migration.