UK net migration from EU countries was flat last year, while 251,000 more non-EU nationals arrived than those who emigrated, show numbers that suggest a large impact from Brexit on the flow of people.
Data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that net migration was estimated to be 239,000 in the year ending June 2021, a small decrease from the 260,000 of the previous year.
However, it also showed that EU net migration was estimated to be close to zero. In contrast, non-EU net migration remained positive at 251,000, with 81,000 non-EU nationals emigrating compared with 332,000 immigrating. This reinforces the trend observed in the year to June 2020, when net migration was also driven by non-EU nationals.
Jay Lindop, director of the ONS Centre for International Migration, said these were the first estimates to cover the 12 months to June 2021. That was a period when migration was affected by the restrictions imposed to manage the coronavirus pandemic as well as changes in policy following Brexit, he said.
The ONS warned that the statistics were experimental and produced using a different method from those previously published, because of the data collection challenges posed by the pandemic. Data were previously gathered via face-to-face interviews at ports and airports, which have had to stop.
The figures support the view that the UK’s exit from the EU is leading to lower net migration. As such it is contributing to labour shortages and the historically tight UK jobs market, with the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years.
Separate data also published by the ONS on Thursday showed that online jobs adverts were 42 per cent above pre-pandemic levels after rising again by 7 per cent in the week ending May 20.