Net migration of EU nationals falls by two-thirds since referendum, say ONS

Posted On: 
22nd August 2019

Net migration of EU nationals has fallen by two-thirds since the referendum, according to official statistics.

Figures show overall net migration has stabilised, but the EU and non-EU figures are very different
Credit: 
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But overall immigration levels have stayed broadly similar thanks to an increase in the amount of non-EU citizens moving to the UK.

The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show in the year ending March 2019, 612,000 people arrived in the country, while 385,000 people left.

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That gives an overall net migration figure 227,000, which the ONS points out “is lower than the recent peak of 343,000 in the year ending June 2015, but levels have remained broadly stable since the end of 2016”.

Within the headline numbers there is a marked difference between EU and non-EU, with those coming to the UK from within the bloc registered at 178,000 in the year ending March 2016, three months before the referendum.

Three years later and the figure for net migration of EU nationals was just 59,000 in the year ending March 2019.

That is mainly due to the fact inward migration from the EU is at its lowest level since 2013, which the ONS says “is mainly because of a fall in immigration for work, which is now less than half the level it was at its peak in the year ending June 2016”.

And the figures show more people from the “EU8” countries left the UK last year than arrived.

That group contains the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, who all joined the bloc in 2004.

Meanwhile the figure for non-EU migration has continued to rise, going from 193,000 in the 12 months to March 2016 to 238,000 in the 12 months to March 2019.

Separate Home Office stats also published today show the UK offered protection, either as asylum, humanitarian protection or resettlement, to 18,519 people in the year to March, up 29% on the previous 12-month period.

Responding to the figures, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, said: "Yet again this data show how unworkable the government's reactionary numerical migration targets are. Now the Tories want to make this even worse by excluding all underpaid workers, and insisting on calling them unskilled.

"This would do enormous damage to our public services, including the NHS, as well as to UK industry.

"Labour offers a real alternative which will meet our moral and legal obligations to the Windrush generation and to the EU three million, as well as welcoming the workers, students, new employers and visitors we need to rebuild our prosperity."

Jay Lindop, from the ONS’ Centre for International Migration, added: “Our best assessment using all data sources is that long-term international migration continues to add to the UK population.

“The level has been broadly stable since 2016, but there are different patterns for EU and non-EU citizens.

“Using the data sources available to us, we can see that EU immigration is falling.

“There are, however, still more EU citizens moving to the UK than leaving, mainly for work, although the picture is different for EU8 citizens, with more leaving the country than arriving.

“In contrast, non-EU immigration has stabilised over the last year, after gradual increases since 2013.”