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23 February 2012

Chart of the day: Cameron’s migration headache

By adopting an unachievable target, the PM set himself up for failure.

By George Eaton

One of David Cameron’s most memorable pledges at the last election was to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands” a year. But as Matt Cavanagh noted earlier on The Staggers, he’s made little progress towards that populist goal since.

Today’s figures from the ONS (see graph) show that net migration – the difference between the number of people entering and leaving the country – was 250,000 in the year to June 2011, little lower than the peak of 255,000 seen in September 2010.

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The problem for Cameron is that the high level of net migration is driven by two trends – a fall in emigration and a rise in EU immigration – over which he has no control. Had Cameron merely promised to reduce immigration he would have had a good chance of succeeding. Contrary to the claims of the right-wing press, immigration has been stable since 2004. Instead, by adopting an unachievable target, he set himself up for failure.

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