Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Near-record UK immigration figures fuel raging EU debate

Published:Friday | May 27, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, speaks during an event in east London, yesterday.


Britain received 333,000 people through immigration in 2015, a near-historic high, in figures that will fan the debate in Britain about newcomers ahead of a vote next month on whether the country should remain in the European Union(EU).

Campaigners for exit from the EU said yesterday's Office for National Statistics figures prove that Britain cannot control immigration unless it quits the bloc. Citizens of the 28 EU nations can live and work in the other member states.

"You see the pressure on public services, you see the waiting lists in hospitals, in GP surgeries and of course in schools," said former London Mayor Boris Johnson, the leading member of the 'leave' camp. "People are feeling it, and what they resent is the lack of control."

Prime Minister David Cameron has long promised to reduce net migration below 100,000. His failure to do so gives ammunition to EU 'leave' campaigners.

With less than a month to go before the vote, the figures also give the 'leave' camp ample opportunity to attempt a change in the terms of the debate, which so far has revolved around dire warnings of the shock such an exit could have on the economy.