Figures released this week show that net migration increased to 333,000 in 2015, the second highest upsurge on record.
The net figure is the number of people moving to the UK for at least a year, less the number leaving the UK.
The Office for National Statistics figures estimate that net migration for EU citizens was 184,000.
Figures well outside Government’s goal to reduce migration
According to the ONS, there was a 20,000 rise in net migration to the UK from the 313,000 for the year to December 2014.
David Cameron’s goal of reducing net migration to the ‘tens of thousands’ was clearly not met.
Figures show 270,000 EU citizens moved to the UK for at least a year in 2015, up from 264,000 in 2014. However, non-EU migration was 277,000, down from 287,000 in 2014.
What the ‘Leave’ campaigners are saying
In an interview with Sky news, London Mayor and Leave supporter, Boris Johnson stated:
“At the current rate of fire the population of this country is going to go up to 70 or 80 million very shortly. That is a change, a massive change in our lives that I don’t think the people of this country have bargained for”.
Asked if it could be brought down to the tens of thousands if Britain left the EU, he replied:
“I think it certainly is possible, in the sense that you would take back control. At the moment what is happening is that the government is pushing down very unfairly on, say, talented engineers from India, or paramedics from Australia, and has absolutely no control over huge numbers coming from the EU 28. We would be able to decide our Immigration policy on the needs of the British economy.”
Johnson says migration will “continue to get worse” if the UK stays in the EU.
“If you vote IN on 23 June, you are kissing goodbye permanently to control of Immigration. You are voting for the current situation not only to continue but to get worse. You are voting for the European Court to be in charge of Immigration and Asylum policy permanently. You are giving away any chance of democratic legitimacy for Immigration policy.
The only way to take back control of Immigration is to Vote Leave on 23rd June. The public should be able to vote for those who make the laws of this country including on Immigration. It is intolerable to continue without democratic consent for Britain’s Immigration policy.”
Is this true? Well, as we have said before, whether or not Britain choses to remain in the EU, it is likely that it will be forced to accept free movement principles in exchange for retaining status quo trade agreements.
Anyone who believes that a Brexit
will easily resolve EU migration only needs to look at Switzerland. In a referendum in February 2014, the Swiss voted to introduce quotas on EU migrants from 2017. The country wants to introduce a "safeguard clause", through which curbs would be imposed when Immigration
in Switzerland exceeds a certain threshold. However, after months of tough negotiations, Brussels and Berne have reached gridlock – unable to work out how EU migration quotas can be implemented without violating a bilateral pact guaranteeing freedom of movement for EU workers.
It is doubtful that the 28 member states will do Britain any favours negotiation wise if it votes to leave the EU on 23rd June. Migration is likely to remain an issue regardless of whether we are inside or outside the EU.
OTS Solicitors is a London based Immigration, Employment and litigation firm. We are recognised throughout the UK as experts on Immigration law. Please contact our London office on 0203 959 9123 to make an appointment with one of our team.