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Migration figures: Record number of EU citizens emigrate from UK

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The number of EU citizens who emigrated from the UK last year is the highest on record, the Office for National Statistics has said.

A total of 139,000 left the country in 2017. The only other year when the EU emigration figures came close was in 2008, when the figure was 134,000.

Net long-term migration to the UK from the EU was 101,000 last year, the lowest estimate in five years.

The ONS data is for the first full calendar year since the Brexit vote.

Net migration – the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK for at least 12 months and those emigrating – from countries outside the EU has risen to 227,000, the highest level since September 2011.

The government’s aim is to cut overall net migration, from the EU and outside the EU, to the tens of thousands.

Media captionBBC examines the statistics of migration over decades across the world

‘Sustainable levels’

The ONS said: “The estimated number of EU citizens coming to the UK ‘looking for work’ continued to decrease over the last year and the number coming to the UK for a definite job has remained stable.”

Immigration minister Caroline Noakes said: “What these statistics show is that more of the people who are coming to the UK are coming for the reasons we would want – to take up a definite job or to study.

“More EU nationals continue to arrive than leave and as the ONS have made clear, net migration has been broadly stable since late 2016. But while it is not unusual to see quarterly ups and downs, we know more needs to be done if we are to bring net migration down to sustainable levels.”


By Danny Shaw, BBC home affairs correspondent

The figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the government remains a long way off from meeting its objective to cut overall net migration, EU and non-EU, to the tens of thousands.

Last year, 240,000 people from European Union countries came to live in Britain.

The number of EU migrants has been falling since June 2016 – the month of the referendum – and is now at a similar level to mid-2014.

At the same time, emigration of EU nationals from Britain has been steadily increasing and at 139,000 is the highest level on record.

As for migration from countries outside Europe, 311,000 people arrived in the UK last year – back to levels last seen in 2011.

Separate statistics from the Labour Force Survey, for January to March 2018, show that there were 2.29 million EU nationals working in the UK, 28,000 less than a year earlier – the first annual fall since 2010.

The figures show there were 1.25 million non-EU nationals working in the UK, 20,000 more than for a year earlier.

While net migration is continuing to add to the UK population, the 2017 figure of 282,000 is down from record highs recorded in 2015 and early 2016.

It is the highest for 18 months, however.

Emigration has shown a gradual increase since 2015 and is currently around 350,000, the ONS said. Immigration has stayed roughly stable at about 630,000, the report showed.

Migration figures: Record number of EU citizens emigrate from UK

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