FILE - Migrants are seen on the UK Border Force rubber dinghy, after they were picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel on June 16, 2022. AFP
Net migration – the difference between the number of people arriving and those leaving – was 606,000 for the year, according to the Office for National Statistics. A total of 1.2 million people moved to the U.K. in 2022, while 557,000 left.
The net figure is up from just under 500,000 in 2021.
The statistics office said the record level was due to a “series of unprecedented world events throughout 2022 and the lifting of restrictions following the coronavirus pandemic.”
As well as people coming to Britain to work, the figure includes tens of thousands of international students and almost 200,000 people who have arrived under special programs for people fleeing war in Ukraine and China’s clampdown in Hong Kong.
The high figure will renew debate about Britain’s departure from the European Union, which was motivated in part by the arrival of hundreds of thousands of people from across Europe in the years before the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Supporters of Brexit said leaving the EU — which gives citizens of any member country the right to live and work in all the others — would allow the U.K. to control its borders. Many who voted for Brexit thought immigration would fall, but the opposite has been true.
While the number of people moving to Britain from EU countries fell to 151,000 in 2022, the number from outside the bloc was 925,000.