Dilemmas of control

Think tank: British Future

Author(s): Heather Rolfe; Sunder Katwala; Steve Ballinger

September 12, 2023

This report from UK think tank British Future presents the findings of the immigration attitudes tracker 2023.

‘Dilemmas of Control’ reports the new 2023 findings from the Ipsos/British Future Immigration attitudes tracker, which has followed public attitudes to immigration across a range of questions since 2015. It examines public attitudes to immigration numbers, migration for work and international student migration, as well as public opinion on asylum and refugee protection, including Channel crossings and the Rwanda scheme. The research finds that public dissatisfaction with the Government’s handling of immigration is at its highest level since the tracker began, with high levels of distrust and opinion sharply divided views by party political allegiance. The salience of immigration has begun to rise again, particularly given the visible lack of control in the Channel. Despite record levels of immigration to Britain, people are more divided than in the past over whether or not to cut the numbers. Polarisation, along political and demographic lines, is greater still when it comes to questions of asylum and as Britain enters an election year, we should expect to see an increasingly heated debate about immigration. The report examines the different challenges for politicians of different parties – and the common need to better understand where the public is coming from, in all its nuance and complexity, in order to rebuild damaged public trust in the capacity of politicians and the Government to manage immigration well.