Author: LARA DEAUVILLE
Polish remains the most common non-British nationality, with an estimated one million in the UK.
Romania has overtaken the Republic of Ireland and India to move from fourth to second place in the list.
Some 350,000 Irish nationals lived in the UK in 2017, while there were 346,000 Indians.
Britain opened its doors to Romania and other eastern European countries in 2004.
At the time the Home Office predicted 13,000 immigrants in total would arrive each year.
The figures were catastrophically wrong.
Much of the massive rise in Romanian immigration can be attributed to former Labour Prime Minster Tony Blair who personally authorised the relaxation of immigration controls for Romanians in a deal with their prime minister, Adrian Nastase.
According to the Daily Telegraph the pact, which was finalised at the EU summit in Rome in 2003, entailed the lifting of visa requirements as a reward for a decrease in the number of asylum applicants from Romania. This helped the New Labour Government meet a key pledge made by Mr Blair.
Mr Blair’s deal to allow unrestricted entry for Romanians received little publicity in Britain but after it became apparent David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said: “Tony Blair was deeply involved in attempts to manipulate the figures for asylum seekers coming into this country rather than trying to resolve the problem properly.”
Today’s figures, from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show the total number of non-British nationals living in the UK in 2017 was 6.2 million, up 4% on 2016’s total of six million.
This is a smaller rise than that recorded between 2015 and 2016, when the number rose by 8%.
Nicola White of the ONS migration statistics division said: “Non-UK born and non-British populations continued to increase in 2017, as more people continued to come to the UK to live than move to live abroad for a year or more.
“Poland-born residents and Polish nationals were the most common populations from outside the UK. However, the largest increases in population were seen from those born in Romania and those with Romanian nationality.”
The figures show that 3.8 million (61%) of the 6.2 million non-British nationals living in the UK in 2017 held EU nationality.
This is roughly the same proportion as 2016 (60%).
London had the largest proportion of non-British nationals in 2017, with the highest numbers in the local authorities of Newham (38%), Westminster (36%) and Brent (34%).
The ONS data is based on a survey of households and does not cover most people living in communal establishments, some NHS accommodation, or students living in halls of residence who have non-UK resident parents.
Separate figures show the number of people living in the UK who were not born in this country – which is different to non-British nationals – increased from 9.2 million in 2016 to 9.4 million in 2017, up 3%.