NET MIGRATION to the UK rose last year to 212,000 compared to 177,000 the previous year, new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.
The figures will come as a blow to David Cameron, who has pledged to reduce net migration to tens of thousands before next year’s general election.
Despite the rise from 177,000 to 212,000, the figures show that net migration remained steady for the last three months of last year. The number of non- EU migrants fell by 11,000 but the number coming to the UK from European countries rose by 43,000.
The number of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants did not surge, as Ukip’s Nigel Farage had predicted. Instead, the ONS said, 29,000 Romanians and 7,000 Bulgarians had been issued with National Insurance numbers in the 12 months to March 2014. Additional numbers of migrants from Romania and Bulgaria came to the UK before controls were lifted at the beginning of this year, statisticians said.
Around the same number of people left the UK last year as in the previous 12 months, with 314,000 emigrants compared to 321,000 in 2012.
Immigration minister, James Brokenshire, said: “While recent net migration levels remain stable, the figures show that it has fallen by a third since its peak in 2005 under the last government and that this government’s reforms have cut net migration from outside the EU to levels not seen since the late 1990s.
“We are focusing on cutting out the abuse of free movement between EU member states and addressing the factors that drive European immigration to Britain,” he added.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said Cameron’s flagship immigration pledge was in “shreds”.