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This report by the Policy Institute and British Future shows that, in the run-up to the 2019 election, immigration had become a less heated electoral issue, with the public holding more positive views on the issue than in the past.
Fieldwork conducted by ICM in January assessed the impact of the election, before the COVID-19 outbreak was top of mind. It provides important insights into the long-term evolution of public opinion on immigration and how policymakers should respond in the future.
Key findings include:
- Immigration ranked 9th out of 10 issues that voters considered “very important” in the 2019 general election. The NHS was the top concern for 74 per cent.
- More than three-quarters would be happy for the numbers of high-skilled workers coming to the UK from the EU or outside to stay the same or increase.
- 63 per cent said there should be exceptions to a salary threshold for important jobs, such as nurses and carers, with agreement from 62 per cent of Conservative voters, 67 per cent of Labour voters, 58 per cent of Leave voters, and 73 per cent of Remain voters.
- Asked to rate the impact of immigration on the UK on a 1-10 scale (negative to positive), most people in the UK (56 per cent) are “Balancers”, giving a score of 4-7.
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Following on from this work, British Future and the Policy Institute produced another report looking at the impact of the coronavirus crisis on UK attitudes to immigration and the public’s preferences for the points-based system.
The analysis in this report compares responses from a subset of survey questions fielded in January 2020 for The Reset Moment report with responses from May 2020, one week after the first measures to ease the UK's lockdown were announced.