British people vastly over estimate how much UK immigration has taken place, according to a new study.
The poll of 16 to 64 year olds found that people reckoned almost a quarter of the British population is made up from people who have arrived from overseas. The actual figure is 13 per cent.
Pollsters Ipsos Mori found that people in each of the 14 nations it surveyed believed that the immigration figure was much higher than it actually was. In the UK, those questioned also believed the British Muslim population was much higher than it really is, at 21 per cent compared to the actual five per cent.
Bobby Duffy of the Ipsos Mori social research institute told The Independent that the size of the misconceptions meant there were “clear issues” when it came to informed debate and making policy decisions because politicians react to what voters think, rather than the actuality. He said there were huge gaps between perception and reality.
“Public priorities may well be different if we had a clearer view of the scale of immigration,” added Mr Duffy.
The survey comes at a time of hardening attitudes towards UK immigration and migration. Following the success in the spring European elections for the anti-migration party UKIP, mainstream political views appear to be hardening further towards immigration.
The poll looked at people’s understanding of social issues in all the 14 countries surveyed. The Swedish had the most accurate view of the subjects raised and the UK was in fifth place overall.