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EU Migration to UK at Lowest Level Since 2013, Disputed Data Shows

EU Migration to UK at Lowest Level Since 2013, Disputed Data Shows

Immigration to the UK from the EU remains at its lowest level since 2013, according to disputed estimates from the Office for National Statistics, The Guardian reports.

The quarterly migration statistics report has been released a day after the ONS had to admit the reliability of the data set had been called into question and had been downgraded from the gold-plated “national statistic” status to “experimental”.

The move came after statisticians discovered EU migration to the UK had been underestimated, while non-EU migration had been overestimated.

Released under its reclassified experimental status, the data showed net migration to the UK – the difference between people leaving and arriving – was 226,000 in the year to March.

As home secretary and prime minister, Theresa May had relentlessly pursued a target of reducing net migration to tens of thousands but never succeeded. Her successor as prime minister, Boris Johnson, ditched the target when he took office.

The data shows the number of EU citizens arriving in the UK has continued to fall since 2016, mainly because of a decline in people coming to the country for work, the ONS said.

In the year ending in March, EU immigration was estimated to be 200,000. This is the lowest since the year ending June 2013, when it was an estimated 183,000.

The fall in EU immigration is the main reason for the low level of net EU migration – the difference between the number of those arriving in the UK and the number leaving, not including UK citizens – which at 59,000 is less than a third of its peak level of 219,000 in the year ending March 2015.

The figures show 52,000 more UK citizens left the country than returned home.

The figures have been released at a time of intense debate over freedom of movement, as the home secretary, Priti Patel, plans to bring it to an abrupt end in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Matthew Fell, the CBI’s chief UK policy director, said: “The downward trend in EU net migration in the last couple of years, combined with record low unemployment, means that skills shortages are getting worse.

“Business understands that free movement is ending, but it marks a huge change in the way firms access skills and labour. They will need proper time to adapt to a new system.

“The announcement that free movement will end immediately in a ‘no deal’ has left employers and their employees asking fundamental questions about what this means for them. They urgently need this clarified.”

For net migration outside the EU, an estimated 219,000 more non-EU citizens moved to the UK than left in the year ending March 2019. Net migration of British citizens was 52,000

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