The latest UK immigration figures have shown that net migration rose for the first time in two years.
Compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the data found that net migration rose to 182,000 in the year to June this year, up from the 167,000 recorded in the previous 12 months. However, while net migration was up, UK immigration figures continued on a gradual path of decline, falling to 503,000 in the year to June, compared with 517,000 in the year to June 2012.
The increase in net migration was largely due to the decrease the number of people leaving the UK. Around 320,000 people left the country in the latest period of study, down from 349,000 in the previous year. This leaves emigration at its lowest point since 2001.
Prime minister David Cameron has issued a staunch plan to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands” by the end of the currently Parliament; a plan that will be hampered by this latest increase in net migration figures.
The University of Oxford's Migration Observatory said that the ONS data make Cameron's target look “increasingly difficult” to achieve. However, the official spokesman for the prime minister told the BBC that reducing the net migration still “absolutely remains” Cameron's objective.
Home secretary Theresa May suggested that the increase in net migration the pull factors that continue to “draw people to Britain". She added that while there is a massive disparity between earnings across the EU member states, an “overwhelming incentive” will remain in place for people to move from poorer to richer countries.