uk net migration of 2022 hits record high
Official estimates released on Thursday revealed that annual net migration to the UK hit a record high of 606,000 last year, putting pressure on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to reduce numbers.
High levels of legal immigration have long dominated British politics, and the subject was a key factor in the 2016 Brexit vote.
Over the past ten years, successive Conservative-led administrations have made promises to reduce immigration, once setting a net goal of fewer than 100,000.
However, according to data from the Office for National Statistics released on Thursday, a net of 606,000 individuals arrived in the United Kingdom in the year ending December 2022. Data from the prior year, which ended in June 2022, indicated a net figure of 504,000.
Many people who voted to leave cited high migration and the strain they claimed that put on public services as a factor in their decision. Leaders of the Brexit movement had argued that Britain would have more control over its borders if it left the European Union.
However, in recent years Britain has opened visa programs for citizens of the former British colony of Hong Kong and the Ukrainian Republic, and businesses in industries like engineering, construction, and catering have urged the government to permit them to employ foreign workers.
2015, the year before the referendum, saw 329,000 people move to Britain.
Sunak has made a target-free commitment to lower legal immigration. The government announced earlier this week that it would take away some international students’ ability to bring family members into the country.
In response to the recent influx of tens of thousands of people crossing the channel in small boats, Sunak has also vowed to crack down on illegal immigration.