Brexit Promised Control of U.K. Migration. Now Numbers Have Surged.

When Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, Brexit campaigners promised to “take back control” of the country’s borders with tougher policies that many Britons believed would increase immigration numbers. I will decrease.

The figures hit a new high in 2022, according to official figures released on Thursday, an unwelcome record for a government that is internally divided over whether Brexit will last more than two years. After how to regulate immigration policy, he was given the power to control who entered the country legally. .

Last year’s figures show a net migration of 606,000, an increase of about 120,000 over the previous year. The figures underscore the dilemma facing British Prime Minister Rishi Singh, who faces growing political pressure to curb immigration even as he tries to revive an economy sluggish due to labor shortages. are doing

Although the figures were lower than many expected, the rising trend has raised tensions at the highest levels of government. The Conservative Party has been in power for 13 years but has failed to deliver on promises to reduce immigration.

“The numbers are huge, it’s as simple as that, and I want to bring them down,” Mr Sink told British broadcaster ITV on Thursday, although He rejected suggestions that immigration was out of control.

The Cabinet Minister responsible for Migration, Sylla BravermanThe Home Secretary, a reticent on the issue, appears to have gone further than Mr Sink, criticizing her own government’s policy. Last year she said she wanted net migration to fall below 100,000 a year.

After the end of the pandemic, the increase in numbers was due to non-European immigrants. The total includes around 360,000 international students and their dependents, 235,000 coming to the UK for work and 172,000 on humanitarian visas.

In an attempt to preempt Thursday’s announcement, the government said earlier this week that it would bar the majority of international students from bringing their family members into the country.

There has been a marked change in the profile of migrants under political tension since the post-Brexit rules came into full force in January 2021. This was the date when EU citizens lost the automatic right to work in the UK and faced the same visa restrictions as other nationalities.

Since then, the number of Eastern Europeans entering the UK from countries such as Poland, Latvia and Lithuania has declined, while British employers have increased their numbers from India, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Philippines, as well as from other non-European countries. Recruited from

“It’s a huge change in such a short period of time,” said Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University. He, like other analysts, said he expected overall immigration to fall after Brexit.

However, he added that temporary factors have inflated the number.

For example, the latest figures include about 160,000 people entering from Ukraine and Hong Kong, which may be a short-term trend. In addition, many who came to study in the UK after the pandemic will return home in the coming years.

“A reasonable expectation is that the net figures will decline into more familiar territory over the next two to three years,” Ms Sumption said.

According to separate Home Office figures for the year ending March 2023, more than 343,000 visas were issued to people from India, more than 200,000 from Ukraine and about 180,000 from Nigeria. By contrast, only 2,598 were granted to citizens of Poland, once Britain’s largest source of immigrants.

Opinion polls have shown that the public has become less concerned about legal immigration in the years since the Brexit vote, and since becoming prime minister last autumn, Mr Sink has turned his attention to tackling illegal immigration. and focused on stemming the flow of asylum seekers. Channel from France on small boats.

But there is growing unrest on the political right, where critics say immigration puts pressure on Britain’s deteriorating public services, such as health care and education, as well as the availability of housing.

Some argue that UK employers are used to importing cheap labor and should instead raise wages to lure more Britons back into employment, or increase their investment in training and mechanisation.

Nigel Farage, a prominent Brexit campaigner, recently claimed that those who supported the UK’s exit from the European Union had been duped by promises from Conservative politicians to take back “control” over migration. were eaten

“The great British public took this as an admission that immigration would be reduced. In fact, it was a colossal deception,” Mr Farage wrote in the Daily Telegraph. He added that as a result of increased immigration, Britons are being “denied the basic standards in public services that were taken for granted a generation ago.”

John Hayes, a former minister and close associate of Ms Braverman, told the BBC on Thursday that Britain needed a high-skilled economy. He called for more training for British workers and criticized high immigration, adding that “the pressure it puts on public services and housing is unsustainable.”

Although a sudden influx of immigrants can boost services (school districts, for example), analysts say that, over the medium term, immigrants generally contribute more than they receive through the tax system. . They also play a key role in public service personnel.

Ms Sumption said it was “extremely difficult to argue that overall immigration is putting pressure on the National Health Service because most NHS recruitment is from immigrants”.

Anand Menon, professor of European politics and foreign affairs at King’s College London, notes that under previous forms of immigration, newcomers spread across the country to fill jobs including food processing or fruit picking. By contrast, the most recent arrivals have headed for cities, which tend to be more diverse and accustomed to assimilating immigrants.

This is because in order to qualify for many work visas under the post-Brexit immigration system, migrants need to find higher-paying jobs, which are more easily found in large urban centres. are

“Geography is really important.” Professor Menon said. “If these migrants were going to the same places EU migrants were going to, we would have a public outcry very quickly.”

“It’s not as noticeable because they’ve gone to places where there were already a lot of immigrants, where it’s hard to see and where people are relatively relaxed about immigration anyway,” he added.

Despite record migration numbers, many employers still complain of labor shortages and pressure the government to expand programs for sectors that struggle to fill vacancies.

This has led to friction within the Conservative Party, where Ms Braverman’s public calls for lower migration have even led to speculation that the party would back down on the issue if it loses the general election. may resign and try to position herself as a possible successor to Mr. Sink. Expected next year.

Professor Menon said Mr Sink faced a tough choice because immigration was good for UK manufacturing and for the Conservatives to have any hope of re-election, they needed to grow the economy faster.

He added, “The Conservative Party leadership is very clear that the only way they can go into the next election is if the economy improves significantly,” and yet their own forces are blocking efforts to do something about the economy. have been “

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