Rishi Sunak under pressure as net migration hits 672,000 and last year's figure revised upwards to 745,000

Thursday 23rd November 2023

Estimated net migration to the UK stood at a provisional 672,000 in the year to June 2023, up from 607,000 in the previous 12 months.

This is below a revised record figure of 745,000 in the year to December 2022, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Net migration takes into account the amount of people arriving in the UK, minus those who leave, and in 2022 the figure was a record 606,000.

The previous estimate for the year to December 2022 had been 606,000, but the ONS has since revised this upwards in light of “unexpected patterns” in the behaviour of migrants.

The ONS’s Jay Lindop said: “Net migration to the UK has been running at record levels, driven by a rise in people coming for work, increasing numbers of students and a series of world events.

“Before the pandemic, migration was relatively stable but patterns and behaviours have been shifting considerably since then

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised the “overall numbers will come down” on migration.

In 2019 the Conservative's promised to reduce immigration.

About forty migrants board an inflatable boat before they attempt to cross the Channel illegally to Britain

The latest figure could range from 480,000 to as high as 700,000

However the figures show that 1.2m people immigrated to the UK, while 508,000 emigrated elsewhere.

TalkTV's Julia Hartley-Brewer said: "We were told that these were exceptional years with Covid, Ukraine and Hong Kong. We were told that it wasn't going to happen every year - so why is it still going up?

"The government makes promises but never seems to deal with the issue. Britain's addiction to mass migration is becoming dangerous."

The ONS have said the main factor in the rise of non-EU immigration was migrants coming for work, with the majority from Ukraine or British Nationals (Overseas) arriving on health and care visas.

The issue of reducing net migration has been a long-standing problem for the Tories, with then-prime minister David Cameron promising to bring it down to the “tens of thousands” in 2010.

The New Conservatives group on the Tory right has called for ministers to close temporary visa schemes for care workers and cap the number of refugees resettling in the UK at 20,000 as part of an effort to slash net migration to 226,000 by the time of the election expected next year.

The Government has introduced measures to prevent overseas students bringing dependants with them to the UK but while those “will lead to a significant reduction” over time, the changes “won’t impact the figures this week”, a spokesman said.

He said the Government “obviously” wants to see legal migration fall, but added that “our priority still remains small boats crossings”.

Mr Sunak is said to be “actively looking” at what more can be done to reduce legal migration.