STATEMENT BY BORIS JOHNSON ON IMMIGRATION STATISTICS, 26 MAY
Last year, 270,000 people came to this country from the EU and net migration was 184,000. That means we are adding a population the size of Oxford to the UK every year just from EU migration.
Since 2004, 1.25 million people have been added to the population due to EU migration. That is bigger than the city of Birmingham.
I’ve always championed the great benefits that can come from immigration. I am the proud descendant of immigrants.I’ve seen how as Mayor of a great capital city, London has benefited in so many ways from migration. As Mayor I argued consistently for a more sensible visa policy that would welcome talented people from across the globe, people recruited on the basis of their skills.
Britain benefits from cultural influences from abroad, I'm pro-immigration, but above all I'm pro controlled immigration. People of all races and backgrounds in the UK are genuinely concerned about uncontrolled immigration and the pressure it's placing on local services. People have every right to question why we can't control our borders. We need to answer those concerns by taking back control of those borders.
But we must also face the fact that the system has spun out of control. We cannot control the numbers. We cannot control the terms on which people come and how we remove those who abuse our hospitality. This puts huge pressure on schools, hospitals and housing. It is exploited by some big companies that use immigration to keep wages down - and it is striking that the pay packets of FTSE 100 chief executives are now 150 times the average pay of people in their firms.
Worst of all, it is terrible for our democracy. People have watched Prime Minister after Prime Minister make promises on immigration that cannot be met because of the EU and this has deeply damaged faith in our democratic system.
The Prime Minister repeatedly promised that he would get a grip of this. The government told us that it would ‘keep our ambition of delivering annual net migration in the tens of thousands’. We were told that economic migrants from the EU would need to prove they had a job offer to come here - a pledge made by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Chancellor.
I am afraid that Brussels sent them packing, and in fact 77,000 have come since the Prime Minister made that promise.
The Government has failed because of the simple reality that inside the EU we cannot control immigration - it is literally impossible because we have no choice but to accept the principle of free movement and the European Court has ultimate control over our immigration policy. This has led to the absurd situation in which we stop highly qualified people coming from around the world who could contribute enormously to our society because we cannot stop millions of unskilled people coming here from the EU.
Even worse, the Prime Minister’s deal has given away control of immigration and asylum forever. His deal does nothing to solve this crisis and has not brought back a single power for the UK. The rogue European Court now controls not just immigration policy but how we implement asylum policy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
And, on top of all of this, new countries are in the queue to join the EU and the EU is extending visa-free travel to the border of Syria and Iraq. It is mad.
If you vote IN on 23 June, you are kissing goodbye permanently to control of immigration. You are voting for the current situation not only to continue but to get worse. You are voting for the European Court to be in charge of immigration and asylum policy permanently. You are giving away any chance of democratic legitimacy for immigration policy.
The only way to take back control of immigration is to Vote Leave on 23 June. The public should be able to vote for those who make the laws of this country including on immigration. It is intolerable to continue without democratic consent for Britain’s immigration policy.
That will be best for our public services, particularly the NHS. It will also allow us to have a fairer immigration system that is better for Britain, stops discriminating on the basis of where you come from, and instead allows us to pick people on the basis of skills.
Imagine how much stronger we will be, and how much more respected in the world, when we have an immigration policy that stops discriminating on the basis of whether you are an EU citizen and instead selects people on the basis of their contribution to this country.
The British public support immigration but they want it controlled by those who they elect. They are generous but feel their generosity has been abused. They are right. On the 23 June they will get their chance to take back control.
That’s the safer choice.