EU immigration to Britain falls to five-year low with 201,000 moving to UK last year amid uncertainty over Brexit
- 201,000 EU nationals moved to UK indending to stay for at least a year in 2018
- This was the lowest inflow since 2013 when the same figure was recorded
- 127,000 EU citizens emigrated – giving 74,000 net figure, ONS figures show
- ONS says non-EU long-term immigration has gradually risen over five years
Immigration to Britain from the European Union has fallen to its lowest level in five years, official figures revealed today.
An estimated 201,000 EU nationals moved to the UK with an intention to stay for 12 months or more in 2018, which was the lowest inflow since 2013 when the same figure was recorded.
Some 127,000 EU citizens emigrated – giving a net figure of 74,000. In the year to June 2016, when the Brexit referendum was held, net long-term EU migration was 189,000.
EU immigration was as its lowest level since 2013. This graph shows EU long-term international migration in the UK, for the year ending December 2008 until the year ending December 2018
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said non-EU long-term immigration has gradually increased over the last five years to similar levels seen in 2011.
Overall net international migration was estimated at 258,000 last year – down from 285,000 in 2017 but still well above the Government’s target level of under 100,000.
Jay Lindop, director of the ONS centre for international migration, said: ‘Our analysis of the available data suggests that long-term net migration, immigration and emigration figures have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016.’
EU net migration has decreased since mid-2016 following a period of increase, while non-EU net migration has gradually been increasing since 2013, standing at an estimated 232,000 last year, the ONS report said.
It added: ‘However, both EU and non-EU citizens continue to add to the population, while more British citizens leave long-term than return.’
Net migration from eight eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004 has been negative in the four consecutive quarterly statistical bulletins.
Net migration, immigration and emigration figures have continued to remain broadly stable since the end of 2016. This graph shows the long-term international migration for the UK
In the latest period, 10,000 more nationals from the so-called EU8 states – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – departed than arrived.
There was a ‘statistically significant’ rise in net migration from the Middle East and Central Asia, rising from 18,000 in 2017 to 30,000 last year.
Ms Lindop said the pattern of migration to the UK for work has been changing since 2016.
She added: ‘Long-term immigration to the UK for work has fallen, mainly driven by the decline in EU arrivals.
‘Despite this, 99,000 EU citizens still came to the UK long-term to work in 2018, a level similar to 2012.
‘We are also seeing the number of skilled work visas for non-EU citizens increasing, although overall non-EU work-related immigration has remained broadly stable.’
This graph shows how non-EU net migration has gradually increased since 2013 and EU net migration has decreased since 2016. It displays net migration by citizenship into the UK
The latest figures prompted fresh calls for the Tories to abandon a controversial objective of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.
Prime Minister Theresa May has remained in favour of the target, but Home Secretary Sajid Javid has refused to commit to a specific figure, instead saying the Government’s aim is to bring migration down to ‘sustainable levels’.
Sunder Katwala, director of think-tank British Future, said: ‘These will be Theresa May’s final immigration statistics as a prime minister and home secretary who placed the net migration target at the centre of the Government’s immigration policy.
‘But the net migration target was a promise to voters that could never be kept.’
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: ‘It’s clear that the UK has become less attractive for EU citizens over the past few years, whether because of the lower value of the pound or the uncertainty around Brexit.
‘But Brexit doesn’t seem to have put off non-EU migrants: the UK continues to be a top destination for international students and skilled workers from outside the EU.’
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