The Prime Minister David Cameron has promised vigorously and repeatedly that his Government would reduce annual net immigration into the UK to the “tens of thousands” by the time of the General Election in May. Politicians seem to have a Special Hobby of not fulfilling their promises, and this was no exception.
Figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) show that the Government is nowhere near reaching this target; indeed, it is a practical impossibility. The main reason for this is a large number of EU migrants from East European who have come to the UK, attracted by the much-vaunted expanding economy (maybe the Government should have kept quiet about it). Apparently about 900,000 of them came to the UK in the last three months of 2014 and net annual migration currently stands at around 260,000. Interestingly, net migrant is now higher than when Mr Cameron came into power.
The Government is playing on a very sticky wicket here. There is very little it can do to stop EU immigration; European free movement legislation renders it impossible for them to prevent EU migrants coming in through the border. The only way out of this problem seems to be for the UK to leave the EU – an absolutely momentous step were it to ever happen. But Mr Cameron has promised a referendum on this subject if the Conservatives form the next government.
This is a subject that we can no doubt look forward to hearing more of in the General Election campaign.