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Immigration: Thinking Behind the Numbers, Understanding Public Opinion on Immigration in Britain

15 Jun 2023

This work was undertaken in collaboration with Kantar. To access the full report, please click here.

In the first half of 2023, immigration in Britain has never been far from the headlines. In January, the Prime Minister announced his five priorities for the year, including a pledge to ‘stop the boats’, and in March, tweets by Gary Lineker ignited a debate on the language used by politicians and the media about immigration.

Meanwhile, overall immigration levels have increased substantially. But the migration debate is complex, and migrants come to Britain for many reasons. Behind the headline figures, attitudes towards different types of migration and different policy options are likely to be nuanced.

To understand that nuance, in April 2023, Kantar Public and the Migration Observatory conducted a snap poll to answer the question: what does the British public think about immigration? In 2011 the Migration Observatory first completed research and analysis known as ‘Thinking Behind the Numbers’, and we have largely replicated this approach again in 2023. Some questions have been revised or added to account for the changing policy landscape over the last twelve years. In this report, we revisit some of those initial findings and how public perceptions and attitudes have changed today (April 2023).

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This Migration Observatory is kindly supported by the following organisations.

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