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:

ILLEGAL MIGRANTS FLOOD EU

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)

Asylum_claims_EU_June_2014_to_June_2015_Home_Offic

(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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