UK immigration reaches new high$1166887.htm

Thursday, 15 Nov 2007

More immigrants arrived in Britain during 2006 than in any previous year, estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

During the year an estimated 591,000 immigrants began their new lives in the UK, beating the previous highest estimate of 586,000 for 2004.

The ONS figures also reveal increasing numbers of new arrivals are dispersing beyond London to the rest of the country. In 1999 London was the final destination for nearly half of all new immigrants, but in 2006 the capital accommodated around one-third.

The overall impact is mitigated by emigration from the UK to overseas, which topped the 400,000 level in 2006 for the first time. Net immigration as a result was 191,000.

Of those leaving the country, just over half were British citizens. Most of these left for Australia, New Zealand, France, Spain or the US.

"The remainder of emigrants (194,000) were non-British citizens, who left the UK in 2006 having lived here for at least a year," the ONS said.

Today's figures are likely to reignite the heated immigration debate currently raging in British politics.