An Oxford university report has found that 69% of the British public would favour reduction in the number of immigrants coming to Britain, with most people viewing cutting the numbers of asylum seekers and low skilled workers as a priority.
However, these immigrant groups are significantly more difficult for the government to reduce, as low skilled workers come primarily from the EU. By comparison, groups that are easier for the government to limit, such as skilled workers from outside the EU and foreign students, enjoyed greater public support.
The report was released earlier this week by the Oxford University Migration Observatory. It found that opposition to immigration tends to be focused on “illegal” immigrants: while just 12% of those surveyed would not support reducing the number of illegal immigrants, the report found that there is only minority support for reducing high skilled workers (32%) and university students (32%).
The report observed: “Policies that respond to the overall public preference for reduced immigration without taking account of these differences may reduce immigration in ways that a majority of the public does not support.”
Senior Researcher Dr Scott Blinder said: “A clear majority of people in Britain would like immigration reduced, but they want the cuts to come from specific groups of immigrants, and these are often groups over whom the Government has limited direct control, and sometimes groups that are comparatively small in number.”
A second year PPE student agreed: “Public opinion towards immigration is a lot more nuanced than certain tabloids would have us believe: government policy needs to take account of that.”