PM faces right-wing revolt over UK net migration rising to 672,000

Rishi Sunak is facing heavy push-back from right-wing Tory MP's after it was revealed net migration is on the rise, as ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana reports

Rishi Sunak is facing a right-wing Tory revolt after it was revealed net migration to the UK is still rising despite his bid to crackdown on numbers resettling in Britain.

His former home secretary Suella Braverman - a talisman for the right of the Conservative Party - is the latest to hit out over the figures, which showed net migration rose by 65,000 year on year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said estimated net migration stood at a provisional 672,000 in the year to June 2023, up from 607,000 in the previous 12 months.

And the total for the year to December 2022 has been revised to 745,000, meaning it broke all previous records.

Ms Braverman said the impact on public services was “unsustainable”, asking on social media: "When do we say: enough is enough?"

She followed the New Conservatives - a group of around 25 Tory MPs who entered Parliament after 2017 - who demanded action to bring down net migration in a strongly-worded statement, saying it is "‘do or die’ for our party".

Despite a suggestion from the ONS that the numbers may show a slowing of immigration, the news piles huge pressure on Mr Sunak to get his anti-immigration policy back on track after the Supreme Court ruled the flagship Rwanda deportation plan unlawful.

Ms Braverman said the "record numbers are a slap in the face to the British public who have voted to control and reduce migration at every opportunity".

“Brexit gave us the tools. It’s time to use them,” she told her party leader.

She said that as home secretary she had called for an annual cap on net migration, the closing of the graduate visa route and a cap on health and social care visas.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the latest figures showed the government had failed on immigration.

“That figure is shockingly high. It represents a failure, not just of immigration, but also of asylum and of the economy."

Home Secretary James Cleverly said the migration figure is “not showing a significant increase” but “we are working across government on further measures to prevent exploitation and manipulation of our visa system”.

He added: “This figure is not showing a significant increase from last year’s figures and is largely in line with our own immigration statistics.

“The government remains completely committed to reducing levels of legal migration while at the same time focusing relentlessly on our priority of stopping the boats.

“A priority we are already delivering on – cutting small boats arrivals by more than one third and dramatically increasing the number of asylum applications we process. This is not only the right thing to do, but what the British public want us to do.”

Most people arriving to the UK in the year to June 2023 were non-EU nationals (968,000), followed by EU (129,000) and British (84,000).

People arriving on humanitarian routes fell from 19% to 9% in the year to June 2023, the ONS said, and the majority of these were Ukrainians and British Nationals (Overseas).

An estimated 80,000 people arrived long-term on these visas, of which 47,000 were BN(O) and 33,000 were Ukrainians.

Those arriving long-term on Ukraine visa schemes peaked in the year ending December 2022 at 109,000, the ONS said.

The ONS said patterns and behaviours of migrants have been changing post-pandemic, with more students arriving, and staying longer.

The ONS’s Jay Lindop said: “Net migration to the UK has been running at record levels, driven by a rise in people coming for work, increasing numbers of students and a series of world events.

“Before the pandemic, migration was relatively stable but patterns and behaviours have been shifting considerably since then.

“More recently, we’re not only seeing more students arrive, but we can also see they’re staying for longer. More dependants of people with work and study visas have arrived too, and immigration is now being driven by non-EU arrivals.

“The latest numbers are higher than 12 months ago but are down slightly on our updated figures for year ending December 2022. It is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend.”

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