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Net immigration to the UK fell by more than 100,000 people in the first full year after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, driven by declining numbers of arriving EU citizens and increased EU citizen departures, according to statistics released on Thursday.
The figures for the year to June showed net immigration into Britain of 230,000 people, down from a record high of 336,000 for the year ending June 30, 2016, just days after the June 23, 2016 referendum.
About 230,000 people arrived to live in the UK from EU countries during the year — down 54,000 on the previous year — and 123,000 left, up 28,000.
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, said the changes reflect how, even before any changes to EU migration rules, the UK had become a “less attractive place” for EU migrants. He pointed out that applications for UK national insurance numbers by EU citizens had dropped 13 per cent in the year to September.
Professor Portes attributed the fall to the decline in the value of the pound, the relatively stronger performance of other EU economies and the wider social and political impact of the Brexit vote.
“Whatever your views on the impact of immigration, it cannot be good news that the UK is a less attractive place to live and work, and that we will be poorer as a result,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “If the government wants to make Brexit a success, it needs to reverse this.”
Theresa May’s government has said that EU citizens living in the UK at the time of Brexit will be allowed to stay, but there has been no confirmation of a deal over the issue in the Brexit negotiations.
Although immigration is falling, it continues to add to the UK’s population — and there is still net immigration from the EU. The overall net immigration figure remains more than twice the target of less than 100,000 that the Conservative party has been pursuing since the 2010 general election.
Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the Office for National Statistics, said that EU citizens accounted for more than three-quarters of the fall in net immigration.
“The decline follows historically high levels of immigration and it is too early to say whether this represents a long-term trend,” she said.