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OPINION - The Standard View: Immigration figures underline Britain’s ability to attract global talent

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

A row over one set of figures is likely to dominate the day. But as is all too often the case when it comes to immigration, the loudest voices will not necessarily be the most representative, or considered.

Net migration into the UK hit a record 606,000 in 2022, driven by people coming to work from non-EU countries, students and those arriving for humanitarian reasons, such as Ukrainians and Hong Kongers. These are, however you slice it, significant numbers.

Yet what the debate overlooks is that this is an active policy choice. The UK badly needs immigration, businesses across the country are crying out for it. Our NHS would cease to function without migrants, while foreign students largely fund our universities, and spend vast sums in their communities.

What matters is a system that works for Britain. If taking back control meant anything, it was that the Government could decide which and how many people came to this country. That is largely happening now. And many of those have the skills our economy desperately needs.

Clearly, there ought to be considerations when it comes to high levels of immigration. We must build more homes and invest in greater capacity in our public services. But the overall economic benefit is undeniable, as is the UK’s continued ability to attract global talent.

Condemn the abuse

While the Evening Standard supports the extension to the Ultra low emission zone (Ulez), there are legitimate arguments against the policy. Some motorists on low incomes will be hit hard by the new charge. The car scrappage scheme could and should have been far more generous.

What is wholly unjustifiable is the type of threatening, abusive and quasi-conspiracy-theorist protests aimed at the Mayor practically wherever he goes. The latest was when Sadiq Khan made an appearance at the Royal Festival Hall yesterday evening to promote his book, Breathe.

A man threatened to fight one of Mr Khan’s brothers. Another screamed it was “a lie” that nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death had been caused by air pollution, as a coroner confirmed in a landmark case. Her mother, Rosamund, was in the audience.

It is incumbent on everyone on all sides of this debate to condemn this abuse and rank thuggery emanating from a small minority of people.

Tina Turner’s courage

It is impossible to imagine rock ’n’ roll without Tina Turner. That voice, her passion, the energy she brought every night on stage.

Her life was far from a fairytale, from overcoming an abusive marriage to her years in the wilderness. Turner always had to show courage. And for that, as much as her music, she will be remembered and sorely missed.