Although the issue of immigration still causes disagreement or hostility between people, negative public attitudes towards immigration in the UK appear to have softened, according to a recent survey, but it is now considered less important. since the 2016 EU referendum.
Forty-seven per cent of people now think immigration has a positive impact on Britain compared with twenty-nine per cent who think it has a negative effect, according to the survey by Ipsos Mori and migrant organisation iMix. The number of people who would like to see fewer people moving to the UK has dropped by about a fifth since June 2015, from 66 per cent to 54 per cent.
According to iMix chief executive, Emma Harrison concerns about immigration is dropping which leaves political parties who focused on cutting numbers “out of step with public opinion”. There is no doubt that people would like to see a managed approach to migration but there appears to be a distance between public rhetoric and what they actually see happening in their own communities.
The latest survey suggests immigration is less of an important topic than it was five years ago.
A YouGov/Times poll from 2016 showed that immigration was the publics top political priority with 56 per cent ranking it among one of the most important issues which faced our country today. In a similar poll last year it had dropped to the third most important issue prioritised by 29 per cent of people.
“The oxygen appears to have been sucked out of immigration debates” since the EU referendum according to deputy director of Oxford university’s Migration Observatory Rob McNeil. The latest Windrush scandal which exposed both the ill-treatment of Commonwealth citizens and also highlighted their contribution to the UK has also contributed to a changing of attitudes and we have seen over many months a complete reversal of attitude and opinion.
The most recent survey showed that attitudes continue to be divided on Brexit lines, with 12 per cent of Remain voters saying migration had a negative effect against 47 per cent who voted to leave.
Also remaining unpopular is the government’s response to migration with 57 per cent dissatisfied with Theresa May’s actions and 59 per cent with those of Boris Johnson.
A Syrian refugee, named Mohamad Dawoud, who arrived in the UK a year ago said that he had encountered ‘institutional hostility’ in the asylum process, that often contrasted with the response from ordinary people. He also felt that media coverage of migration had a negative affect on migrants. Often in the news, you will not hear the different stories behind the news about migration.
The Ipsos Mori survey also exposed a contradiction in attitudes, with 49 per cent of people agreeing immigration enriched UK culture while 61 per cent felt that migrants failed to integrate. Although 67 per cent of people said migration put pressure on our public services, many also recognised the contribution of migrant workers, and 49 per cent say that more people should come to the UK to work as nurses and 47 per cent as doctors.