If current immigration levels continue, white Britons will be in a minority in the UK in little more than 50 years—within the lifespan of most young adults alive todayby David Coleman / November 17, 2010 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2010 issue of Prospect Magazine
Public disquiet at the scale of immigration into Britain featured strongly in the last general election campaign, and almost certainly helped to decide its outcome. Despite that, most of us realise that migration for work, family, retirement, study and other purposes is normal and desirable in any civilised country. Most Britons have valued friends, colleagues or helpers who are immigrants. But the inflows of the last decade have been more sudden and on a bigger scale than ever before. The consequent increases in population and changes in its composition have caused concern about economic opportunities, housing, local character and national identity. Moreover, if inflows continue on a similar scale they will transform the demography of this country.
The most recent, 2008, official projections, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), are extraordinary. As recently as 1998, the ONS projected that the UK population would peak at about 65m in 2051, and then slowly decline. The latest 2008 principal projection, however, expects it to have risen to 77m by 2051, and to 85m by 2083—mostly as a result of immigration. These rises, equivalent to adding the population of the Netherlands by 2050, are unavoidable if recent trends in migration, fertility and survival continue.
And no official attention has been paid to a parallel implication of this projected increase: the inevitable alteration of the ethnic composition of Britain. Annual ONS estimates show that the ethnic minority population of England and Wales increased by almost 2m between 2001 and 2007—from 12.7 per cent of the population to 15.7 per cent. (These figures are, however, based on the 2001 census definition of ethnic minority, which included “white Irish” and “other white”—continental Europeans, Americans, some from the middle east and so on—in the minority category.) Official projections of the ethnic minority populations were published in 1979 for the first and only time.
A few years ago, when presented with the demographic consequences of current migration policies, officials from the home office explained to me that population was “not the business of the home office.” Whose was it, then, one wonders? It is unclear whether those who promoted the inflows of the 1990s and 2000s understood the consequences of what they were doing. This article spells out what they might be.