Public Opinion & Voting - Main Points

The below summary was last updated September 2019

Key issues

Immigration levels

  • 30 million UK adults (nearly 60% of the UK adult population) support reductions in immigration levels – see our paper (polling 2018-19).
  • Well over half of these (18.5 million) think immigration has been much too high and/or want to see it reduced by a lot (polling 2018-19).
  • Only a small minority (10%) wish to see immigration increased (polling 2018-19).
  • Only a small minority say the UK would be better off if we let in all immigrants who wanted to come here (Ipsos, 2019).

Salience of immigration

  • Voters said that immigration was one of the top three issues on which they would base their vote at the next election (Opinium, February 2018).
  • The salience of immigration has declined in recent years compared to other issues, including Brexit and the NHS (Ipsos MORI issues index).
  • Yet UK respondents still see immigration as one of the two most important issues facing the EU (Eurobarometer, 2019)

Views of approach taken by Ministers / MPs

  • Nearly three-quarters of the public supported the government delivering on its repeated promises to significantly reduce the level of net migration (Deltapoll, June 2018).
  • 57% say they are dissatisfied with how the government is handling immigration (Ipsos MORI, 2019).
  • Only 13% of the public trust MPs to tell the truth on immigration either all or most of the time; just 17% trust the government to do the same (ICM, 2018).

Population growth

  • Nearly two-thirds (64%) say the UK population is growing too rapidly (YouGov, 2018).
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of the public think the UK is crowded (YouGov, 2016).

Housing and public services

  • 68% say that migration puts pressure on public services and housing (Ipsos MORI, 2019), while 58% said in a separate survey that immigration places too much pressure on these amenities.
  • 69% think that the country is in the throes of a housing crisis, and (54%) see immigration as the largest contributor (Opinium, 2017).

Illegal immigration

  • 77% of Britons agree that illegal immigration is a serious problem facing the UK (higher than for 12 EU countries - 2018 Project28 poll)
  • 70-80% support the ‘compliant environment’ policies to tackle illegal immigration (YouGov, April 2018).

Social cohesion and identity

  • 71% of Britons believe that immigration has made communities where migrants have settled more divided, reaching 78% in areas experienced large-scale recent immigration (2018 poll by Demos).
  • 65% think the influx of immigrants will change the culture of the UK (2018 Project28 poll)
  • 64% say that too often, migrants don’t integrate and follow British customs (Ipsos MORI, 2019).
  • A large majority (between 80% and 95%) think it is either very important or fairly important that migrants have an ability to speak English to become ‘truly British’ (Open Europe / NatCen).

Public Opinion & Voting Research


Over the 23 years that Migration Watch UK has been working in this field we have produced many papers.

View Public Opinion & Voting Library