Public opinion on UK immigration highlights demand for integration

30 Apr 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The issue of UK immigration has always been a difficult subject for politicians to broach due to the race and culture issues that are inextricably linked to the matter. Immigration debate was once dominated by extremist views as a result, but times are starting to change and a number of research projects have begun to engage public opinion in the political centre and recognise the importance of skilled migrant workers.

A recent report from the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson has looked at the issues in Peterborough in particular, where nearly 5,000 people born in Pakistan have made their homes in the last decade, along with around 6,500 from Poland.

The city has become a hotbed of debate around the matter as social services work hard to accommodate the changing demographics. But what has emerged from public opinion surveys is that many people in the city are able to see the positives of immigration, so long as people moving to Britain work hard to integrate themselves into the community.

Marco Cereste, an Italian whose family came to Peterborough in the 1950s, is the area's political leader. He is a Conservative in an area where the local Tory MP has called for tougher control on immigration. However, he believes that new immigrants, who are increasingly from Eastern Europe, will learn to fit in in much the same way as the Italians did last century. As people settle, he added in discussion with Mr Robinson, new avenues of economic growth will emerge.

Mr Robinson himself concluded his studies with further emphasis on the importance of integration: “While politicians are catching up with the public by debating how to limit immigration, people are increasingly asking questions not just about who should now be allowed to come here, but how to achieve integration in a society which has changed dramatically in recent years.”

Some of the recent changes to UK immigration regulations for visa access have attempted to tackle the matter of integration, particularly with reference to the need to improve English language skills.