Despite promises made regarding Brexit, immigration in the UK reaches an all-time high.

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Immigration Surges Despite Post-Brexit Pledges

Successive pro-Brexit Tory governments fail to curb immigration as figures show a significant increase in long-term stays in Britain. In 2022 alone, immigration rose by over 15%, with 1.2 million individuals choosing to settle in the country. These figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), demonstrate a record-breaking addition of 606,000 people to Britain’s population, despite 557,000 emigrants leaving the country during the same period. This continues the upward trend seen since the Brexit vote in 2019, with net migration figures reaching 504,000 in 2021, a 20% increase.

International Students and Non-EU Immigration Drive the Surge

The lifting of pandemic restrictions has had a notable impact on the influx of international students, which has played a significant role in driving the overall increase in immigration. The ONS attributes this surge to the rise in international students coming to Britain for educational purposes. Additionally, non-EU immigration has contributed to the high levels of migration, particularly with an influx of individuals from Ukraine and Hong Kong. The special visa schemes offered to nationals from these two countries, in response to the Russian invasion and domestic political events respectively, have led to a substantial rise in arrivals.

Conservative Government’s Post-Brexit Pledges Fall Short

Despite the Conservative government’s promises to tighten immigration controls after Brexit, the recent figures contradict these pledges. Former Prime Minister David Cameron’s famous commitment to reducing migration to the “tens of thousands” by 2010 did not materialize. Net migration figures remained between 200,000 and 250,000 annually leading up to the Brexit vote in 2019. However, the recent surge in immigration is believed to be driven by temporary world events, and long-term estimates suggest a slowdown in the rate of immigration.

New Policies Aim to Tackle Growth, but Challenges Await

In response to the mounting immigration figures, Rishi Sunak’s government has introduced new policies to control legal migration. These measures include restricting dependents accompanying foreign students and preventing students from switching to work visas before completing their studies in the UK. Despite these efforts, experts predict that the realistic target of 500,000 immigrants by the 2024 general elections may still be challenging to achieve. Moreover, earlier this year, the UK government announced its readiness to face legal challenges against a new law intended to prevent migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats, further highlighting the complexity of managing immigration.

SOURCE: Ref – Sudesh Baniya

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