The Office for National Statistics has told the BBC that the net EU migration figures the Prime Minister used in his speech on immigration are wrong – and that EU immigration was estimated at 57,000 not 27,000 in the year to June 2010.
The reason this matters is that Cameron used the figure to claim that Europe accounted for only a “small proportion of overall net migration to the UK.”
Who is right?
It transpires that the PM’s figure is technically correct for net immigration from the EU. But the ONS argue – quite compellingly – that it’s appropriate to exclude the British citizens who left the country during that period (a net outflow of 30,000). Thus they believe the 57,000 figure is more valid.
Incidentally, the ONS earlier in the afternoon accused Cameron of citing net immigration from the EU15 (not the larger EU27) to come up with his figure. But no: it is a co-incidence that the EU15 figure for the same period was the same figure of 27,000. Downing St are quite indignant* about this mix-up.
* UPDATE: “Furious more like“, says one aide