While the coronavirus pandemic has since slashed all forms of international travel, immigration to the UK increased to its highest level since the Brexit vote last year. In the first quarter of 2020, around 715,000 people moved to the UK, while 403,000 left, according to an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report published on Thursday. Overall, the population increased by 313,000.
Of the nearly three quarters of a million people who relocated to the UK, 257,000 came to study, while 458,000 came for work, family or other reasons. Only 195,000 arrivals were EU citizens, and the ONS noted that student arrivals from China and India accounted for a significant number of immigrants.
According to the ONS, non-EU net migration “is at some of the highest levels seen since International Passenger Survey (IPS) records began for this group in 1975.”
The ONS survey does not account for illegal immigrants, or those who have not yet been granted asylum. The period covered by the data is also largely pre-pandemic, the health crisis having initiated lockdowns and travel restrictions around the world.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who has repeatedly called on the government to stem the flow of migrant boats from France, was predictably dismayed at the latest statistics.
“In 2016, we voted to take back control of our borders, and this government was elected on that mandate,” he wrote on Twitter. “Conservative voters will be very disappointed by these figures.”
We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality