Net migration to the UK hit 333,000 in 2015, the second highest level on record

The latest migration figures have been released Credit: PA

Net migration to the UK increased to the second highest level on record in the year ending December 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figure - the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving - was up 20,000 from the previous year.

  • EU migration

This is compared with 174,000 in the previous year. Non-EU net migration was 188,000, compared with 194,000 the previous year.

Statisticians said the apparent increase in EU net migration was largely due to a rise in net migration of citizens from Bulgaria and Romania, from 44,000 to 58,000.

  • Immigration minister: 'Leaving the EU is absolutely no panacea'

James Brokenshire has said the figures show that "net migration from outside of the EU and within the EU remains too high".

James Brokenshire: 'These figures underline that there are no quick fixes'. Credit: PA

The immigration minister said the government remains committed to reforms to bring migration down to sustainable levels

"Leaving the EU is absolutely no panacea or silver bullet whatever some may suggest," he added.

Immigration has been a subject of much debate during the EU referendum campaign Credit: Reuters

Immigration has been a key issue during the EU referendum campaign and the figures - the last set of official data before Britons go to the polls on June 23 - are expected to spark a fierce debate between Remain and Leave camps.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson, a prominent member of the Vote Leave campaign, said the figures reflect the "scandal" of politicians' promises over immigration.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was quick to dismiss the migration figures and said he is sure the "real numbers are much higher".

Nigel Farage said: 'I don't believe these official figures'. Credit: PA
  • Immigration for work 'highest estimate on record'

This was an increase of 30,000 from the previous year and the highest estimate on record.

Graph shows that employment appears to still be the driving force for immigration. Credit: ONS
  • 178,000 (58%) had a definite job to go to.

  • 130,000 (42%) arrived looking for work.