Brits 'most supportive of migrants In Europe'

The British have a more positive attitude towards immigration than any other major European nation, according to a new survey.

London city crowd of people
The YouGov/Cambridge Globalism Project survey found that almost half of Britons believed that immigrants' contributions to the nation are either positive or, at worst, neutral.

Findings contradict assumptions about reasons for Brexit

The findings run counter to the popular assumption that the British public was more hostile to immigration than many of its European neighbours, and that this attitude was a major factor behind the 2016 vote to leave the EU.In fact, the survey found that 28 per cent of Britons believed the benefits of immigration outweighed the costs, compared with 24 per cent in Germany, 21 per cent in France and 19 per cent in Denmark. Another 20 per cent of Britons regarded the benefits and costs as being about equal.Only 37 per cent of Britons believed the costs of immigration outweighed the benefits – a lower percentage than in any other major European nation apart from Poland. In Italy, half the population had a negative view, as did 49 per cent of Swedes, 42 per cent of French and 40 per cent of Germans.

Britons supportive of migrants with job offers in the UK

The survey showed that the British were particularly supportive of migrants, both qualified professionals and lower-skilled workers, if they had a job offer in advance of their arriving in the country.Forty-one per cent of Britons agreed that unskilled labourers arriving in the UK with a job offer were good for the country, a higher proportion than in all other major EU nations apart from Spain.Similarly, Britons showed the highest level of support for qualified professionals coming to the UK with a job offer, with 80 per cent agreeing they were beneficial to the country, compared to just 56 per cent in France.However, there was much less support in the UK than elsewhere for migrants arriving in search of work.Sunder Katwala, the director of the identity and integration think-tank British Future, told the Guardian that a number of studies were showing the UK was on the ‘glass half full’ end of the debate.

Attitudes to immigration are softening

“There’s an increasing body of evidence that attitudes, having been very sceptical, are becoming softer,” he said. “The salience of immigration has dropped significantly and there’s also been a warming up of attitudes.“There’s a lot of nuance in British attitudes. The nuance was missing in the last ten years because we were having a debate about, ‘are we able to talk about immigration or not?’.“It’s now a debate about what we should do now. Some people accept changes are coming. Some people are more empathetic because they see stories like Windrush. They see that the three million Europeans in the UK aren’t just a statistic, but the people we see on television are worried about whether they’re allowed to stay.”
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