Four in five say Britain is facing a crisis over immigration
By JAMES SLACK
5th April 2008
Immigration is diluting our culture and leading to the breakdown of society, according to the vast majority of Britons.
83 per cent told pollsters the country had a “population crisis”.
Strikingly, this view was held by 58 per cent of settled migrants and their British-born children.
Most of those interviewed felt that special treatment for newcomers was causing locals to “lose out.”
The same views were shared across the social classes.
The survey for Immigration: The Inconvenient Truth, an investigation by Channel 4's Dispatches, was carried out by YouGov.
It found that 15 per cent of Britons would halt immigration altogether and 84 per cent would reduce it. 63 per cent of settled Commonwealth immigrants agreed with them.
Two-thirds of those polled believe that migrant workers are undercutting native workers and taking their jobs. Immigration is also considered by the British to be the biggest factor behind societal breakdown over the past decade.
Some 58 per cent think the nation's cultural fabric is being “damaged and diluted” by immigration.
Last night, the Government's critics said the case for a cap on migrant numbers – a move resisted by Gordon Brown – was overwhelming.
Damian Green, Tory immigration spokesman, said: “We have been saying for some years now that the rate of net immigration should be substantially lower.
“That's why we called for an explicit annual limit – and without that the Government will continue to have a crisis on their hands.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migration Watch UK, a pressure group, said: “This is stunning confirmation that the public want to see firm and effective action to reduce the scale of immigration. It is a view shared by two-thirds of previous immigrants.
“The Government cannot remain in denial much longer.”
The findings on community relations will be equally alarming for ministers who are finally moving away from the doctrine of multiculturalism.
Only 25 per cent of those polled said immigration had led to a rich and varied culture in Britain – compared with 58 per cent who said it had not.
69 per cent of Britons said multiculturalism was not working as did 45 per cent of settled migrants and 41 per cent of new arrivals.
A third of the latter group agreed with the statement that immigration is making Britain a more dangerous place to live.
Three out of ten Britons claim they “never” or “very rarely” interact with people from ethnic minorities. However, 77 per cent of the recent migrants interviewed said they felt they are generally treated fairly by British society.
Half of migrants who have moved here since 2000 said they had no intention of becoming a UK citizen. Meanwhile, 51 per cent of Britons said they had considered moving to another country. Among city- dwellers, this figure rose to 75 per cent.
The survey's findings end a damaging week for the Government. On Tuesday, an authoritative parliamentary report concluded that migrants bring little or no economic benefit.
The report by the Lords Economic Affairs Committee demolished many of the Government's arguments for immigration, describing the key claim that they boost the economy by 6billion a year as misleading and irrelevant.
Claims that immigrants are needed to fill vacancies and defuse the so- called pensions time bomb' were also dismissed.
Responding to the survey, Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said: “I've been saying for two years that immigration is top of the list of voters' concerns. The British public want to see change to the immigration system and the Government has got the message.
“That is why 2008 sees the biggest shake-up to immigration and border security in 45 years including a points system like the one in Australia, a new unified border force and compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals.”