Immigration cuts: Londoners and Scots ‘more opposed’

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People in London and Scotland are less likely than those in other parts of the country to support cuts to immigration, a survey suggests.

The study by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory also suggests that Scots are the most likely to want more immigration.

People in the Midlands and Wales appeared to be most supportive of cuts to immigration.

The government wants to cut net migration to tens of thousands.

However, experts say this will be hard to achieve.

Ipsos Mori surveyed 1,000 people on their attitudes to immigration for the Migration Observatory.

The survey suggests there is a majority in almost all areas of the UK in favour of cuts to immigration.

However, respondents in London, the most densely populated and diverse area of the country, were the least likely to support cuts.

Some 46% of Londoners said they wanted less immigration while a third said it should remain at current levels. Approximately 8% of Londoners said they wanted to see more.

Almost a third of people who live in the capital were born abroad. But the Migration Observatory said the survey found that white British Londoners were less likely to support immigration cuts than white Britons elsewhere.

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Net migration figures 2010

Immigrants: 591,000
Emigrants: 339,000
Net: 252,000
Provisional data for March 2011 shows net falling to 245,000
The survey suggests that in Scotland, the least densely populated mainland area, there was a majority in favour of cuts – but also 20% who wanted a lot more immigration.

The researchers said that because of the way the survey was constructed, the number of Scots who supported a lot more immigration could in theory fall between 11% and 29%.

But even at the lower end of that scale, there was still far more Scots in favour of more immigration than other parts of the UK.

Dr Scott Blinder of the Migration Observatory said: “London and Scotland have lower levels of opposition to immigration than the Midlands and Wales, but this doesn’t seem to be clearly related to the number of migrants in any of these places.”

In October, the university released other data from the survey suggesting that a majority of people were concerned about categories of migrants that it was most difficult for the government to reduce.

Dr Blinder said the complex results meant it was not a “straightforward slam-dunk” that public attitudes would significantly change if the government hit its targets.

The coalition has pledged to cut net migration from the current level to “tens of thousands” by the end of the Parliament. Official figures show that annual net migration to the UK in 2010 was 252,000 – the highest calendar year figure on record.

Ipsos Mori surveyed 1,002 people between 2 and 8 September for the Oxford study. Approximately 11% of those sampled were born abroad, with British citizens who were born abroad amounting to 5%.

Source: Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

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