The Conservatives’ migration record

Published: 30th Sep 2016

In brief


The increase in net migration under the Conservative government is the highest it has ever been.


The greatest annual increase in estimated net migration in the last 20 years was under the Labour government in 1998. Levels of net migration under this government are thought to be the highest ever recorded.


Net migration is the highest it has ever been.


This is correct. It hasn’t changed much since last year.

Claim 1 of 2

“You presided over the highest rise, the Tory government, net migration is currently at 327,000 a year, the highest it has ever been.”

David Dimbleby, 29 September 2016

Net migration is the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK and the number moving away. It was 327,000 for the year ending March 2016.

The Office for National Statistics says that “net migration remains at record levels although the recent trend is broadly flat”. This year’s level hasn’t changed much from last year’s.

An estimated 633,000 people came to the UK and around 306,000 left. This is around the same as the year before.

Looking at the rate of increase in net migration each year is trickier, because there’s a large margin of error in the figures.

The largest increase for at least the last 20 years appears to have been in 1998 under Labour, based on the best estimates we have. Net migration rose from around 48,000 in 1997 to almost 140,000 in 1998, a threefold increase.

The most recent significant increase we’ve seen was between 2013 and 2014 when it increased by around 50%, from 209,000 to 313,000.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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