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Accidental immigration

Since Labour came to power Britain has experienced its largest wave of immigration ever. It may turn out to be New Labour’s most significant legacy. Yet it seems to have happened almost by accident

By David Goodhart   February 2010

Since Labour’s 1997 election victory 1.6m people have been granted permanent right of residence in Britain, mainly from developing countries. And in 2008 24 per cent of all births in England and Wales were to foreign-born mothers, rising to nearly 50 per cent in London. Strikingly, however, at no point in the last 12 years does there seem to have been a strategic discussion in cabinet about the purpose of much higher levels of immigration.

In the course of making an Analysis programme for BBC Radio 4 on New Labour and mass immigration, I discovered that the final decision to…

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