Author :HARVEY GAVIN
Around 45,000 people from ‘EU8’ states – which include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – came to Britain in the 12 months to the end of March.
During the same period, 47,000 from EU8 countries left the UK, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The number of people coming to live in Britain from Europe has been falling since June 2016 – the same month the UK voted to leave the bloc.
The bulk of the decrease has been driven by a sharp drop in net migration from Western EU states including Germany, France and Spain.
Anti-Brexit campaigners say the drop in net migration from those member states is part of a “Brexodus” caused by uncertainty caused by Brexit.
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, who is part of the anti-Brexit pressure group Best For Britain, said: “These figures show that a Brexodus is under way as people are packing their bags and leaving the UK.
But while the data shows migration from Europe to the UK has dropped to a seven-year low, an increase in the number of people moving from outside of the EU means more people are arriving than leaving.
The latest figures show overall net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK for at least 12 months and those leaving – was 270,000.
The Government is attempting to cut overall net migration to below 100,000 people a year.
Madeleine Sumption, the director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, said: “The UK has clearly become a less attractive country for EU migrants since the referendum.
“The lower value of the pound means that workers coming here for higher wages are getting less than they were in the past, and economic conditions in many of the key EU countries of origin have improved a lot over the past few years. Uncertainty about the implications of Brexit may have played a role.”
Nicola Rogers from the ONS’s migration centre said: “Today’s figures show that around 270,000 more people are coming to the UK than leaving, so net migration is continuing to add to the UK population.
“Net migration has been broadly stable since peak levels seen in 2015 and 2016. Looking at the underlying numbers we can see that EU net migration has fallen, as fewer EU citizens are arriving in the UK, and has now returned to the level last seen in 2012.”
The figures come as Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab gears up for the final stage of Brexit negotiations as Whitehall releases a series of papers preparing for a no-deal scenario.