NEWS24 October 2017

Brits becoming more positive towards immigration

Brexit News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – A longitudinal study carried out by Ipsos Mori between February 2015 and October 2016 has found that while British people have become more positive about immigration, the majority still want to see it reduced.

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Over seven waves of research, the report found an increase in the proportion of respondents who viewed the impact of immigration on Britain as positive, rising to almost half ( 46%).

However, the final wave of the study in October 2016 found that six in 10 people ( 60%) wanted to see immigration levels being reduced. This figure is almost identical to that of the first wave in February 2015, and indicates that despite an increase in positive attitudes towards immigration, the majority of people still want to see it reduced.

There are no major demographic differences in those who had changed their attitudes to immigration (either positively or negatively). In the most significant attitudinal difference, almost a third ( 31%) of those who said they were ‘living comfortably’ had become more positive about immigration, compared with only 23% of people who said they were ‘finding it very difficult’ to live on their current income.

While the vote to leave the EU was primarily driven by nativist views, the study also found that there is not one type of ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ voter, either demographically or attitudinally. Using a segmentation technique, researchers found a spectrum of both voters, spanning different socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds.

The report also found that the majority of people believe that ‘the system is broken’ in the country ( 64%) but only 29% believe that they do not personally benefit from economic growth.

Bobby Duffy, managing director at the Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute said: "Our findings show that over the last two years, there has been a shift to more positive views on the impact of immigration, with a bigger change taking place after the EU referendum. However, the proportion of people wanting immigration levels to be reduced overall remains unchanged. Concern has not gone away, although some may be reassured by the Brexit vote, and others who were more positive about immigration may have been galvanised to express a more positive view.

"The close relationship between immigration and the Brexit vote is also confirmed by the study, with concern about immigration by far the biggest driver of how people voted in the referendum. And in turn the study emphasises that it is often cultural concerns – such as not valuing diversity, opposition to political correctness, nostalgia – that are most associated with this anti-immigrant view, more so than economic concerns."