July 11, 2013
Half a million more immigrants arrived in Britain from the European Union than was previously believed, campaigners have warned.
It means immigration between mid-1997 and mid-2010, while Labour was in power, now totals nearly 4million, rather than the 3.4million recorded.
The number of people who went under the radar would have filled a city the size of Manchester.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) discovered the mistake in May when they compared the results of the 2011 census with the population that they had expected to find on the basis of births, deaths and official immigration figures, Migrationwatch UK said.
The campaign group has written to the UK Statistics Authority watchdog to insist the ONS revises the official immigration numbers for the period – something the group claims it has refused to do.
Migrationwatch UK chair Sir Andrew Green said: ‘Four million immigrants in 13 years is an astonishing figure – the highest in our history, including the Norman Conquest in 1066.
‘This new information underlines the scale of the task faced by the present government in getting the numbers down.’
He added: ‘There is no point in burying bad news in obscure documents. That simply destroys trust. It is hard to think of a set of statistics that is more important to the public.
‘For the sake of public confidence in government statistics there must be a thorough revision of the immigration statistics and the new figures must be published without delay.’
Migrationwatch UK added that allowing for the one million British citizens who emigrated in the period between 1997 and 2010, net immigration comes to three million.
The revelations come as Britain prepares for access restrictions to its labour market to be lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians at the end of the year.
The UK Government has so far refused to provide official estimates as ministers believe they would not be reliable.