A majority of Brits would support a five-year freeze on immigration to allow the country’s infrastructure and public services to catch up with the record levels of new arrivals and resulting population surge over the last few decades, new polling has revealed.
According to the People Polling survey, 53 percent of respondents are in favor of a moratorium on immigration into Britain which remains at sky-high levels as evidenced by last week’s Office for National Statistics data.
The proposal was endorsed by 78 percent of respondents who typically vote for the governing Conservative Party, voters of all political persuasions aged 50 and over, and by 62 percent of skilled workers in Britain.
Even a third of Labour voters (33 percent) and respondents who supported Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum would support such a policy “so the U.K. can better absorb the immigration of the last few decades”.
Pollster Matt Goodwin discussed the findings in the aftermath of last week’s Office for National Statistics data which revealed that immigration into Britain remains sky-high.
In the year ending June 2023, long-term immigration was 1.18 million with net migration running at 672,000 — a figure only surpassed by the recently-revised number of 745,000 for the year ending December 2022.
“Voters, in short, are utterly fed up of the status-quo. They want legal (not just illegal) immigration reduced. And they want it reduced now,” Goodwin wrote on Substack.
He cited other findings from the survey which revealed that 56 percent of all Brits consider net migration to be “too high”, compared with just 2 percent who think it is “too low” and 12 percent who believe it’s “about right”.
An overwhelming majority of 85 percent of governing Conservative Party voters are unhappy with the current rate, revealing the disconnect between Rishi Sunak’s administration and its grassroots supporters.
“The fact that more than one third of Labour voters are also unhappy with the rate of net migration underlines the ongoing potential of immigration to cross the left-right divide in British politics,” Goodwin noted.
The damning indictment of almost three decades of liberal migration policies enacted by both Labour and Conservative governments, was further highlighted by the fact that just 10 percent of respondents claimed that immigration is making Britain “a nice place to live” compared to the 42 percent who said it was making the country worse.
The polling coincided with remarks from senior economists at credit ratings agency S&P Global who noted that the vast majority of immigrants arriving in Britain aren’t actually plugging gaps in the U.K. labor market and warned that the country’s monetary policy would need to “remain restrictive for longer” to bring down inflation.
“The skill set of the non-EU immigrants is different and their participation in the labor market is lower,” noted Marion Amiot and Boris Glass as cited by Bloomberg.
“Many are students or refugees. Consequently, immigration does not necessarily help fill the gaps in industries where the workforce is lacking,” they added.
According to the ONS data, just one in five migrants arrived in Britain in work visas, figures that are further distorting as dependants of migrant workers are also included in this figure. The vast majority came on study visas or through humanitarian channels such as the resettled refugee programs for Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan.