There must be an element of masochism in Theresa May that leads her to promise the electorate something she cannot give them: net migration in the tens of thousands. Figures released today show that the balance of people coming into the county rose to 330,000 in the year to March 2015, putting the Home Secretary further than ever—further than any Home Secretary in history—from the target.
An increase of 84,000 in the number of people coming the UK, and a fall of 9,000 in the number of people leaving the country made up the 94,000 increase in net migration on the previous year.
The balance of migrants from within the EU increased by 53,000 to 183,000. This is the part of migration that the government cannot control, and the immigration of those from within the EU rose to its highest level recorded.
But the migration from outside the EU, the part that the government purports to control, increased too. The number of emigrants fell by 16,000 (Immigration Minister James Brokenshire says that more students are staying in the UK after their courses of study finish), and the number of immigrants increased.
Why do they come? Study is the single biggest reason that immigrants are coming to the UK, but most come for work; either they have a job, or they are looking for one.
And the numbers moving to the UK for work are increasing. Migrants are attracted by, and a cause of, Britain’s growing economy. They are unlikely to be put off by the government’s expressions of ‘disappointment’ in the figures and so we are left with a migration target that distracts from discussion about a level of immigration that follows its own whims, not those of the government.