Where Next For The United Kingdom’s Population?


European Union, Migration Trends, Population

Our estimate

  1. Last week’s ONS biannual population projections assumed, in their principal projection, net migration of 165,000. However we regard that as extremely unlikely unless the UK succeeds in taking advantage of Brexit to reduce EU migration by about 100,000 from its peak by cutting out migration into lower-skilled work as we have proposed. Otherwise, we estimate that the outcome will be the ONS high migration scenario of 245,000 annual net migration.
  2. That would increase our population by nearly ten million over 25 years, of whom eight million would be the result of immigration after 2016. Eight million is roughly the combined populations of Greater Manchester and the cities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Nottingham and Bristol. Such an increase would of course have a profound impact on our society and put unsustainable pressure on infrastructure, roads and housing, not to speak of schools and hospitals.

Our track record

  1. Estimating future migration is more an art than a science but we have a long track record of successfully estimating net migration to the UK.
    1. In 2002, we estimated that non-EU net migration would run at two million per decade, including a small allowance for illegal immigration. At the time our projections were met with howls of derision, indeed sometimes abuse, by the immigration ‘industry’. The Independent wrote in its editorial on 6 August 2002: “Migration Watch UK is a nasty little outfit, and its duplicitous research should be treated with the gravest suspicion. The group deserves to fail…”. An article in The Guardian (7 August 2002) described the figure as flawed, both in its composition and assumptions. The ONS later estimated that legal non-EU net migration in the period 2002-2011 was 2.1 million. Read our 2002 paper and our 2011 press release.
    2. In 2003, we described as ‘almost worthless’ estimates relied on by the Home Office of 5,000 to 13,000 EU8 immigrants per year. We added that 40,000 would be a cautious estimate. In the decade after Accession (2004-2013), EU8 net migration averaged 72,000 per year (including an undercount identified by the 2011 Census). Read our 2003 paper
    3. In 2011, when we launched our petition ‘No to 70 million’, we were of course told that such a population rise would not happen. Now, on the high migration scenario, the UK population is projected to rise to 70 million within ten years. Read our 2011 press release and the ONS release.
    4. In 2013, we estimated that inflows from Romania and Bulgaria would add 50,000 a year to the population. A 2014 Channel 4 News Fact Check said: “Predictions of a mass influx of immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania have failed to come true…” In fact, average net migration from those two countries in the period 2014-16 was 52,000 a year. Read our 2013 paper.

3rd November 2017

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