Immigration and Emigration

Where do we go with migration?

 Key Questions

Do we need more people coming to the UK?

Do we have the right controls at the borders?

Are immigrants contributing positively to all areas and jobs of the UK?

Are there likely to be restrictions on EU visitors and overseas residents?

Key facts

In 2015 630,000 long term immigrants (including 270,000 from the EU) came to the UK of which 308,000 came for work reasons, and 297,000 emigrants left the UK meaning a net immigration of 333,000 people including a net immigration of 184,000 citizens from the EU.

There were 34,687 application for asylum in 2015 (up 38% on 2014) of which the largest number came from Iran.

In 2010 the Prime Minister promised to cut the immigration to under 100,000 p.a.

There are around 3 million EU-born people living in the UK of which 2.1 million are working, accounting for 6.8% (4.8% in 2013) of the workforce.

There are 1.2 million British people living in the EU

There are 125,000 students from the EU whose fees are contributing more than £1billion to education

In 2014 the foreign-born population totalled 8.3 million which had doubled in 20 years.

Distribution of foreign-born population, 2014

Region 2014
London 36.9%
South East 13.3%
East 8.2%
West Midlands 7.6%
North West 7.6%
East Midlands 5.8%
Yorkshire & the Humber 5.7%
South West 5.2%
Scotland 4.3%
Wales 2.3%
North East 1.6%
Northern Ireland 1.5%

Source: Migration Observatory

Number of foreign-born by region

Region                                                  2014                 1995-2014 % change

Tyne and Wear                                       66,000                     168%

Rest of North East                                  66,000                     122%

Greater Manchester                              353,000                    113%

Merseyside                                              84,000                      143%

Rest of North West                                195,000                       90%

South Yorkshire                                     105,000                      114%

West Yorkshire                                       256,000                       83%

Rest of Yorkshire                                    119,000                      112%

East Midlands                                         485,000                      139%

W Midlands                                             455,000                       74%

Rest of West Midlands                            184,000                      95%

East of England                                       686,000                     122%

Inner London                                        1.374,000                       68%

Outer London                                       1,716,000                     107%

South East                                           1,109,000                       116%

South West                                              434,000                      107%

Wales                                                      192,000                        139%

Strathclyde                                              125,000                       109%

Rest of Scotland                                       238,000                     144%

Northern Ireland                                       129,000                    143%

Total                                                           8.3 mill                    103%

Source: Migration Observatory

There are more than 400,000 people in the EU receiving pensions from the UK totalling more than £1.4 billion.

We pay £600 million p.a. for healthcare in the EU – in exchange we receive £40 million of healthcare payments from the EU. The difference has been put down mainly to poor paperwork in the UK.


Fullfact on immigration

EU policy on immigration

The Schengen Area


Immigration is a much more local issue for jobs, NHS etc. than the broad country numbers. The tables in the “Key Facts” tab shows the number of immigrants in different areas and the increase in numbers over the past 20 years. They should be kept in mind in the debate about immigration.

Last year there were 333,000 more immigrants than emigrants.

 Increase +                            (‘000)

EU citizens                             +184

Non-EU                                   +188

British                                       -39

Net immigration                  +333   

Source ONS

The number of foreign-born people in the UK has risen from 3.8 million in 1995 to over 8.3 million in 2014 and more than 50% of them live in London and the South East. The rest are spread relatively evenly across England although Wales and Northern Ireland have under 4% between them and Scotland has 4.3%


Most (58%) immigrants come here to do a definite job and there are estimated to be 2.4 million EU nationals and 1.2 million non-EU nationals employed in the UK.

The economic effects of migration are affected by many local and specific issues like age and type of job. The number of people from the EU working in the lowest skilled jobs have more than doubled since 2006 and they are often more flexible and prepared to work for lower wages.

Some sectors would struggle without immigrants and qualified staff from overseas: 12% of nurses and midwives who started their job within the past two years were born in EU countries and at lease 20% of care workers are foreign-born.

One study concluded:
“Our analysis thus suggests that rather than being a drain on the UK’s fiscal system immigrants arriving since the early 2000s have made substantial net contributions to its public finances, a reality that contrasts starkly with the view often maintained in public debate”.

Benefits tourism

There have been many stories about the attraction of the UK for its social benefits and the Prime Minister regarded it as one of his major “wins” in the negotiations but a report by the House of Commons stated:

…evidence of benefits tourism is weak. The proportion of working-age EU migrants claiming DWP [Department of Work and Pensions] benefits (6%) is less than half the proportion of non-migrants in this age group claiming these benefits (15%).”


There are 125,000 students from the EU and just their fees are contributing more than £1.1 billion to education let alone their other expenditure. There were student loans to them totalling £220 million.


The debate about immigration is being held when we are relatively wealthy and the economy is growing which mean that we need immigrants to fill certain jobs but it could be very different if there is a downturn or if we return to the state we were in when we joined the EU.


Vote Leave

Migration Watch UK

Fiscal effects of immigrants

Huffington Post

Fullfact report on immigration figures

Why do EU immigrants come to the UK?

Border controls: temporary and permanent

UK border controls

The UK has its own border controls with EU citizens needing only identity cards and everyone else needing passports, and travellers from some countries also needing visas. The government does admit that the system is not working because of failed technology and shortage of staff.


There is a threat that we will need to have visas to travel or live there like some other non-EU citizens. If this is true then it should be top of the agenda for any negotiations.

Visas or quotas are the only ways that immigration can be controlled and it is not clear what is proposed. It could include no visas for EU visitors and stricter requirements for non-EU visitors, or even selective quotas that might be more liberal for the EU. This will make it easier for Eire for instance.  But in any event, the final arrangements will affect millions of people.

We should remember that there are nearly three times as many EU nationals living in the UK as there are British residents living in the EU and more than 25 million Europeans visit the UK every year. Therefore any changes could cause major disruptions for both sides.

EU borders

The so called Schengen Area includes 22 EU countries (plus 4 others) that have agreed to take away all border and passport controls  and to coordinate their rules about visas for non-EU visitors. The UK and Eire opted out because as an island we say that we are better off with our own passport controls.

Although we are not directly involved in the current migrant crises which are affecting the Schengen countries, we will have to be part of any answer partly for emotional reasons but also because if they are given EU citizenship then they will currently have the right of free entry into the UK .

Calais and asylum seekers

There are more than 5,000 refugees in the camps at Calais and along the French coast, which were set up by a treaty signed in 2003. It has nothing to do with our EU membership and we have undertaken to pay £12 million over the next 3 years to cover their costs.

In 2015 there were 38,878 applications for asylum mainly from around the Middle East.


Fullfact on immigration numbers

The UK emigrants to the EU

Independent studies say that there are 1.2 million British people living in the EU of whom 300,000 live in Spain, 255,000 in Ireland, and 185,000 in France. About 400,000 of these receive pensions from the UK government.

Any EU citizen has the right of permanent residence after 5 years living in another EU country but non-EU citizens need to stay longer. If any rules change on Exit then they will be equal for both sides and since there are more than 3 million EU people living here it is difficult to see why any changes to EU’s treatment of UK citizens sanctions should make it harder to live there.

In any event, international laws and Human Rights legislation prevent deportation and if there is a change of status as a result of Exit, anyone already living in those countries retains his or her rights. It is difficult to see how they could be branded “illegal immigrants” or how they could be so harshly treated that they will be flooding back to the UK.

Healthcare in the EU is not always free although it is usually at a reduced cost for EU citizens.

The pension rights could be adversely affected on Exit but these should be negotiated as soon as possible.


Benefits of UK citizens living abroad

Rights of UK citizens to vote in the Referendum

Rights of UK citizens living in the EU

Comments in media

Philip Collins in Times:

“The task is to provide better education for that half of every generation that does not go to university. If that were accomplished then immigrants would become colleagues rather than better-qualified rivals”

“Most people who are worried about “immigration” are not worried about immigrants. They are worried about themselves”

Exit’s policies during the campaign

We need more secure borders.

We should decide who we want to come and live in the UK.

There are too many people in the UK already.

Immigrants take jobs and schools and housing from UK citizens.

There is no reason for the EU or the government to threaten the future of UK citizens living abroad.