EU net immigration to UK hits ten-year low ahead of Brexit

By Irene Kostaki
Journalist

Long-term immigration from the European Union into the UK has hit a ten-year low according to data made available by Britain’s Office of National Statistics on February 28.

The data coincides with research by the manufacturing industry trade body, Make UK, which warned that the government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration policy would be “disastrous” and heavily impact the UK’s manufacturing sector.

“Different patterns for EU and non-EU migration have emerged since mid-2016 when the EU referendum vote took place. EU net migration, while still adding to the population as a whole, has fallen to a level last seen in 2009. We are also now seeing more EU citizens – those from Eastern European countries, for example, Poland – leaving the UK than arriving,” said Jay Lindop, deputy director for the Centre for International Migration.

According to Lindop, the “decisions to migrate are complex”. However, “a person’s decision to move to or from the UK will always be influenced by a range of factors, including work, study and family reasons”.

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes said that the UK remained attractive to highly skilled workers, including doctors and nurses, but was “committed to controlled and sustainable migration,” suggesting that after Brexit, “our new immigration system will give us full control over who comes here for the first time in decades, while enabling employers to have access to the skills they need from around the world”.

The government had “always been clear” it wanted EU citizens to stay and the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows EU nationals to apply to stay, added Nokes.

A surprising revelation from the data provided by the Office of National Statistics showed that net migration to the UK by non-EU citizens reached its highest level since 2004 as more people moved to Britain from countries outside the bloc to work and study.