LONDON — The number of people migrating to Britain is set to rise by more than 600,000 in 2022, government figures showed on Thursday, sparking a debate over the scale of the influx. migration and its implications for the UK
Net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving – was 606,000 for the year, according to the Office for National Statistics. A total of 1.2 million people immigrated to the UK in 2022, while 557,000 left.
The total number has risen from under 500,000 in 2021. The total population of the UK is approximately 67 million.
The statistics office said this was due to “unprecedented global events in 2022 and the lifting of restrictions following corona virus epidemic.” It also said that the number of arrivals appears to have decreased in recent months.
As well as people coming to Britain to work, this figure includes thousands of international students and more than 160,000 people who have arrived under special programs for people fleeing the war in Ukraine and Chinalower middle class in Hong Kong.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the number of people entering the country was “very high,” but did not say what the actual number would be.
“We have to be careful with the (health) needs, the finances, but basically the numbers are too high – I’m bringing them down,” he told broadcaster ITV.
The high number also revived the debate over Britain’s exit from the European Union, fueled in part by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people from across Europe in the years before the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Brexit supporters said leaving the EU – which gives citizens of each member state the right to live and work in all others – would allow the UK to control its borders. Many who voted for Brexit thought immigration would fall, but the opposite has been true. The UK still issues thousands of visas a year to work in hospitals, nursing homes and other sectors.
While the number of people migrating to Britain from EU countries fell to 151,000 in 2022, the number outside the bloc was 925,000, and India has overtaken European countries as the largest source of workers.
While many economists say immigration to Britain is helping the economy, some say the new arrivals are putting more pressure on public services and increasing housing shortages.
The story of immigration is also linked to the fascinating story of asylum seekers arriving in Britain in small boats across the English Channel. The UK government has taken controversial steps to stop these flows, including a controversial and legally contested plan to deport people seeking asylum in Rwanda.
Some lawmakers from the ruling Conservative Party called for new measures to limit immigration. But Conservative lawmaker Alicia Kearns, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, warned against “bowing down.”
He said immigration numbers should not include students, adding that the UK’s status as an “educational powerhouse” was a huge advantage. He added that the country needed to “fill the jobs created by the economy,” and that the UK was proud to offer asylum to Ukrainians and Hong Kong residents.