The Sunday Times August 20, 2006

Public wants much harsher immigration policy, says poll

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 975 adults aged 18 and over by telephone on behalf of the Sunday Times between 11 and 13 August 2006. Data are weighted to match profile of population

THE public wants far tougher immigration policies, an Ipsos Mori poll for The Sunday Times has found, writes Isabel Oakeshott.

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The research reveals that opinion on immigration is hardening dramatically, with three-quarters of the population calling for far stricter limits on immigrant numbers.

Almost half the population has serious doubts that allowing foreigners to settle in Britain is good for the country.

In a striking finding, women of all ages appear to be particularly hostile to the number of foreigners settling in the UK — with many deeply sceptical that it is benefiting Britain.

The poll covered a range of political issues, including attitudes to the prime minister, support for Gordon Brown, the chancellor, and the extent to which the main party leaders are tainted by “spin”.

It revealed widespread impatience with Tony Blair, with nearly half of the nearly 1,000 people questioned believing that he should resign immediately. Only a hard core of those questioned — about 13% — believe he should stick to his pledge to serve a full third term.

However, the most striking findings relate to public attitudes to immigration, with the results exposing serious and widespread public concern about current government policy. Many people appear convinced that immigration is bad for Britain, with a significant number calling for borders to be closed completely.

According to the poll, just 14% of people strongly agree that immigration is “generally good” for Britain — with double that number taking the opposite view. A total of 63% say immigration laws should be “much tougher” — up from 58% 18 months ago — while a further 11% say there should be no more immigration.

There are significant differences in the way the issue is viewed by men and women — with many more females saying they do not believe that immigration is good for Britain.

While homeowners and those living in the south of England are most likely to be open-minded about the issue, there is strong opposition among working-class people, particularly those living in the north of England and the Midlands.