Number of Romanian & Bulgarian immigrants coming to Britain hits record high after Brexit vote
The number of people entering Britain from the two Eastern Europe states is at its “highest estimated level” - up 19,000 to 74,000 in the last year to September 2016.
The increase contrasts with numbers from the 'Ascension 8' countries like Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, which has fallen by 10,000.
The ONS also reported the first substantial fall in net migration for the past four years, down by 49,000 to 273,000.
Although the drop may come as a relief to Prime Minister Theresa May, it is far from the 100,000 target set by the Conservative government.
Up to 165,000 EU citizens have come to the UK, compared with 164,000 non-EU citizens, while 56,000 British citizens left the UK.
“Although net migration in the year to September 2016 has not seen a statistically significant change, we have seen a statistically significant decrease in net migration among EU8 citizens and non-EU citizens from Africa, the Americas and Oceania,” an ONS statistician said.
“This is the first release to contain long-term international migration estimates including three months of data following the EU referendum.”
According to the Home Office, 65 percent of people moving to the UK had a job lined up, of which 113,000 were EU migrants.
The findings come a day after Brexit Secretary David Davis told a meeting in Estonia “the door won’t suddenly shut” for EU migrants.
He claimed it would be “years and years” before British people can replace “talented” migrants’ working in the UK.
“The hospitality sector, hotels, and restaurants, in the social care sector, working in agriculture, it will take time. It will be years and years before we get British citizens to do those jobs,” Davis said.
“Don’t expect just because we’re changing who makes the decision on the policy, the door will suddenly shut. It won’t.”
But Davis’s comments clash with the Leave campaign’s main pledge to control immigration.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had claimed that voting ‘leave’ would be the only way to put a break on the influx of migrants coming to the UK.
The Brexit Secretary’s comments were also criticised by UKIP donor Arron Banks, who said he found Davis’ remarks “astonishing,” while also accusing the Tory government for prioritizing business over voters.
“If you look at the figures, most people who voted for Brexit did so because of immigration and are going to ask what the point of it was if we don’t even control our own borders,” Banks said.
“They are going to be very disappointed. But the Tories have always been the party of business so it is of no surprise that the government has sided with them over the voters.”