Nearly two-thirds say immigration is of 'substantial concern' to the public


December 06, 2019

It has been suggested that voters are no longer bothered about immigration. However, new polling finds that nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) agree that the level of overseas net migration to the UK is a cause of major concern for the public. Less than a quarter (22%) disagreed with the statement.

Those who agreed selected pressure on the NHS and pressure on schools as the two most significant sources of concern. The changing nature of our society was also felt to be an area of concern for nearly half of respondents.

The poll finds:

  • Among the parties, 75% of Conservative voters agreed that the average annual level of net migration to the UK that was experienced over the past five calendar years is a ‘substantial concern’ for the public, as did 62% of Labour voters and 53% of Liberal Democrat voters.
  • Among constituencies, 67% of people in Labour-held marginals agreed that this level of immigration is a ‘substantial concern’; this was also true of 61% of those in Conservative-held marginals. Overall, 64% of respondents in marginal seats said this.
  • The regions where most voters agreed it is a ‘substantial concern’ were Wales (69%) and the Midlands (68%).
  • Even 65% of Londoners and 60% of respondents in Scotland agreed that the immigration level experienced over the past five years is a substantial concern for the public.
  • 52% of Remain voters agreed, as did 81% of Leave voters. 
  • They formed a majority of all age-groups (including 53% of 18-24 year olds who took part in the survey).

Respondents were also asked what underlay their view:

  • Pressure on the NHS was named by 81% of those who agreed that the recent level of immigration is a subsantial concern to the public. Those in Conservative-held marginal seats (91%), among the 55-64 age group (92%), in Wales (92%) and in the North of England (86%) were even more likely to select this reason.
  • Pressure on schools was named by 50% of respondents, by 55% of those in the Midlands, by 53% of those in the south of England, outside London and by 59% of those in Labour-held marginal seats.
  • The changing nature of society was named by 47% of respondents in the sample. This issue was chosen by a much higher share of people in Wales (70%) and a slightly higher number among respondents in Scotland (49%).
  • The impact on our environment was named by 42% of respondents in the sample.
  • Competition for jobs was named by 38% of respondents.

Strains affecting the NHS derive from a number of factors (including population ageing and rapid UK population growth, about 80% of which is (and is projected to be) the direct or indirect result of immigration - see both our paper and ONS population projections.

It is noteworthy that in 2017/18 there was, on average, a new GP registration by someone from overseas every minute. There are well over half a million such registrations each year (ONS statistics). 

ONS statistics also show that the number of annual registrations by those from overseas increased by 100,000 during the past decade.

Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

Increasingly in recent months we have heard from politicians and those who benefit from high levels of immigration that the public is no longer concerned about this. This is simply not true. And yet, the issue has not been given the prominence in the election campaign that the public clearly believe it merits.

Will either of the two principal aspirants for the keys to Number 10 have the courage to commit to giving the public what it wants, a substantial reduction in immigration? I have my doubts.

Note to Editors

Result from Deltapoll, commissioned by Migration Watch UK.

Fieldwork: 21st - 23rd November 2019. Overall sample size: 1,519.



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