No Daily Express, the UK is not the ‘favourite destination’ for migration

As Cameron makes his Europe pitch, facts should count for something

Photo: Express owner Richard Desmond with UKIP’s Nigel Farage

Today’s Daily Express joins the chorus of attacks on the prime minister for being too timid in his demands for EU reform.

It’s front page booms:


This is why we need to get out, prime minister

Express 11 11 15

The paper reports on how the EU’s border agency Frontex recorded 1.2million illegal EU border crossings from January to October. That means 1.2million crossings of the EU’s external border – four times higher than the previous year, at 282,000 – though these includes the same people crossing multiple times.
More than half of those recorded arrived in Greece (540,00) while slightly less arrived in the Balkans.

This ‘unprecedented’ number, to use Frontex’s word, naturally corresponds with the unprecedented scale of the refugee crisis, considered the worst in over 60 years.

But the Express goes on to claim the following in its editorial:

“And it is not only Germany that must deal with this flood of humanity. The UK remains the favourite destination, the land of milk and honey and generous benefits.”

This is wrong twice. First, the UK is plainly not the ‘favourite destination’ for people arriving. We know this from qualitative evidence – interviews in the press with people saying they want to go to Germany – as well as quantitative.

Here’s a graph from the Home Office on the top countries receiving asylum applications for the year up to June: (click to enlarge)


(Source: Home Office)

As you can see, the UK isn’t even in the top five.

At 33,000, the UK received less than Sweden, Italy, France and Austria, with less than a third as many as Hungary’s 93,000.

When you make the comparison with Germany, the difference is huge.

Germany received 259,000 to Britain’s 33,000. To put that into perspective, you could fit the total number of Britain’s asylum applications in to Germany’s more than nine times.

And this was before chancellor Merkel’s remarks about welcoming refugees this summer, blamed by the Express for this rise in EU border crossings.

Britain is also slashing its already meagre support for asylum seekers.

As for this view of Britain as the ‘land of milk and honey’, (to move on from asylum), all the available evidence shows most people reaching Britain from the EU come to work. (The top reason given for non-EU visitors is study.)

In order to claim that the UK is the ‘favourite destination’ for people entering the EU, the Daily Express has to ignore the facts. This matters when the press is seeking to influence the prime minister’s negotiations ahead of the EU referendum.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13

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13 Responses to “No Daily Express, the UK is not the ‘favourite destination’ for migration”

  1. 13eastie

    The country in which asylum is claimed is no indication whatsoever of where the claimant originally sought to go.

    Migrants from Syria and the surrounding area are mostly entering the EU via Greece (540,00 according to your numbers).

    So why is Greece not on your list?

    The reason for this is that the majority of migrants are travelling freely and illegally through the EU until (intentionally or otherwise) they enter the local immigration system. And only then do they seek asylum.

    It is nonsensical to conclude from your numbers and lists where migrants originally sought to go or to presume that you can predict their whereabouts after they have claimed asylum, since the final outcome of those claims will be one of:
    – granting asylum and thereafter leave to remain / citizenship (and hence travel within and without the EU)
    – refusal and deportation
    – disappearance from view

    Further, the fact that many immigrants arrive in the UK intending to work (unemployment is low, pay is high) may well be correct, but it is crass to conclude from this that welfare provision when benefits, housing, health and education are taken into account, is not generous here compared to elsewhere.

  2. Sid

    The Daily Express (and the Mail) are doing a great job in exposing the big immigration scams.

    No more uncontrolled immigration !!!


    According to leftes and organisations like shelter we have a severe housing shortage. There must be a point where we say Britain is full. And it is not rascist to say this it is just practical and common sense.

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  5. D.Ashworth

    All things being equal is no measure for the UK, the UK is not a Country but England is and it is the eigth most densely populated Country on earth.

  6. Kathryn

    What is your point? The UK isn’t on the list. Nor is it a first point of contact. Therefore it is not inundated with asylum seekers by either measure?

  7. jj

    think the big worry is that many of the refugees, and migrants, actually ultimately want to get to places like Germany and Sweden, Austria and the UK. The only reason we seeing less come here, is because we are in the far north west of Europe, and surrounded by water. Under many estimates, we have around 1 million illegal immigrants, that cannot be called insignificant under any measure, and it is not helping genuine Refugees.

  8. jj

    Why mention ‘racism’? Obviously such a statement isn’t ‘racist’, we haven’t got enough housing, and we can’t keep up pace in terms of construction.


    Some people do use the term racist when you oppose immigration. Just thought I would mention it.

  10. 13eastie

    My point is that this is not “evidence-based political blogging”; rather a very poor attempt to misuse “statistics” to predicate an argument the sole purpose of which is to oppose perceived right-wing media headlines.

    The UK is a good place to live, which is why my parents brought me here.

    The author should stop treating readers like idiots and, instead of spewing out bull, make sensible arguments, supported by the evidence this blog claims to possess, and not quite so evidently reaction to red-tops.

  11. steroflex

    Poor workers whether or not they are immigrants find their jobs taken, their NHS provision delayed, their children’s schools full to bursting with children who do not speak English and a lot of areas in towns where non-Muslims and non ethnic varieties are simply not tolerated.
    The Labour Party, comfy in its large and spacious houses, with private schools, private health insurance and secure and cushy jobs just preaches.
    UKIP appear to care.

  12. p.britton

    UK is full look after Brits first, Brits can’t see drs/hospitals due to foreigners, 12 billion a year in foreign aid could be spent on care for the elderly etc not wasted on people who want to see our culture destroyed. Charity begins in the home.

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