(Bloomberg) -- Net migration to the UK hit a record high of half a million people, driven by the arrival of international students following the end of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as resettlement programs for Ukrainians, Afghans and Hong Kongers.
Most Read from Bloomberg
An estimated 504,000 more people moved to the UK than departed in the year to June 2022, according to Office for National Statistics data released on Thursday. That’s up from 173,000 the previous year.
The figures will pile pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak from his ruling Conservative Party to move quickly in cutting immigration, after he rebuffed calls from businesses on Monday to make it easier for them to hire workers for overseas. The numbers are also likely to raise concerns among proponents of Brexit, many of whom campaigned for Britain’s divorce from the bloc on the grounds that the country would be able to regain control of its borders and bring down the number of people moving to the UK.
Instead, the ONS said in its statement that the data for the first full period under Britain’s new post-Brexit regime show long-term immigration at a record. It said the 12 months to June were a “unique” period, “with simultaneous factors coinciding to affect long-term immigration.”
“These include the end of lockdown restrictions in the UK, the first full period following transition from the EU, the war in Ukraine, the resettlement of Afghans and the new visa route for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas),” Jay Lindop, director of the ONS’s Centre for International Migration, said in the statement.
The numbers reflected a huge rise of migrants from outside the EU, “specifically students,” according to the ONS. Net migration of EU nationals fell.
Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.