UK

Sunak urged to ‘act now’ by Tory MPs as net migration hits record 745,000

Rishi Sunak has come under pressure following the release of new migration statistics (Peter Powell/PA)
Rishi Sunak has come under pressure following the release of new migration statistics (Peter Powell/PA) Rishi Sunak has come under pressure following the release of new migration statistics (Peter Powell/PA)

Rishi Sunak is facing calls from Tory MPs to “act now” to bring down net migration, as new figures showed that it hit a new record of 745,000.

Revised estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) put net migration to the UK in the year to December 2022 higher than previously thought. However, the figure for the year to June 2023 is estimated to be lower, at 672,000.

In a strongly-worded statement, the right-wing New Conservative group of MPs demanded action from the Prime Minister and his Home Secretary James Cleverly.

The group, led by Miriam Cates, Danny Kruger and Sir John Hayes, warned: “The word ‘existential’ has been used a lot in recent days but this really is ‘do or die’ for our party.

“Each of us made a promise to the electorate. We don’t believe that such promises can be ignored.

“The Government must propose, today, a comprehensive package of measures to meet the manifesto promise by the time of the next election. We will assess any such package and report publicly on whether it will meet the promise made to the electorate.

“The Prime Minister, Chancellor, and new Home Secretary must show that they stand by the promises on which we were elected to Parliament. We must act now.”

The ONS said it is too early to tell if this is the start of a new downward trend but that the most recent estimates indicate a slowing of immigration coupled with increasing emigration.

Mr Cleverly said the latest figure “is largely in line with our own immigration statistics” and insisted the Government “remains completely committed to reducing levels of legal migration”.

The previous estimate for the year to December 2022 had been 606,000, but the ONS has since revised this upwards in light of “unexpected patterns” in the behaviour of migrants.

The latest figures show that a total of 1.18 million people are estimated to have arrived in the UK in the year to June 2023 while 508,000 are likely to have left, leaving the net migration figure at 672,000.

Mr Cleverly said: “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.”

He said the UK needs to “reduce our overall numbers by eliminating the abuse and exploitation of our visa system by both companies and individuals”.