LONDON — It’s official: net migration to the U.K. is at an all-time high.
New figures published Thursday show migration added 606,000 people to the U.K.’s population in 2022 — the highest number on record.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics are likely to prompt fresh criticism of the governing Conservatives, who promised in their 2019 election manifesto to ensure “overall numbers come down” at a time when net migration stood at 226,000.
The rise also comes three years after Britain left the EU touting more control over arrivals through a “points-based” system in place of the bloc’s free movement of people.
Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said the “record levels of international immigration” to the U.K. had been driven by a “series of unprecedented world events,” including the end of COVID-19 lockdowns and British help for people fleeing Ukraine and Hong Kong.
“The main drivers of the increase were people coming to the U.K. from non-EU countries for work, study and for humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong,” he said.
“For the first time since using our new methods to measure migration, we have also included asylum seekers in our estimates, with around one in 12 non-EU migrants coming via this route.”
Lindop said, however, that there were some signs “immigration has slowed in recent months, potentially demonstrating the temporary nature of these events.”
In a preemptive move Wednesday, the U.K.’s Home Secretary Suella Braverman promised a clampdown on student visas.
Her department faces an urgent question from the opposition Labour Party in the House of Commons Thursday afternoon.