Support our Nation today - please donate here

Two-thirds of public ‘dissatisfied with UK Government’s approach to immigration’

12 Sep 2023 4 minute read
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore by the RNLI, following a small boat incident in the Channel. Photo Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Dissatisfaction among the public at the UK Government’s handling of immigration is at its highest level since before the Brexit vote, according to research.

Two-thirds (66%) of those questioned across England, Scotland and Wales said they are dissatisfied with the way politicians in charge are dealing with the issue, the Immigration Attitudes Tracker survey suggested.

The level is the highest it has been since 2015 when the survey began, and the latest figure is up from a low of 41% in 2020.

The dissatisfaction is on both sides of the political divide but for different reasons, the research by Ipsos and think tank British Future showed.

Among Conservative supporters, 56% are dissatisfied while just over a fifth (22%) said they are satisfied with the Government’s handling of the issue, while among Labour supporters almost three-quarters (73%) are dissatisfied while 8% are satisfied.

For 82% of dissatisfied Conservative supporters, “not doing enough to stop Channel migrant crossings” is cited as being their main reason why.


Last week, Labour accused the Prime Minister of having “failed to get a grip” on the issue as the milestone of 20,000 crossings in 2023 to date was reached.

But Rishi Sunak continued to defend his “stop the boats” plan and insisted the Government is making progress and its efforts are “working”.

Among dissatisfied Labour supporters surveyed in the British Future research, fewer people (46%) pointed to stopping Channel crossings as a main reason, while a similar proportion felt the current political approach is “creating a negative or fearful environment for migrants who live in Britain”, and that the Government is “not treating asylum seekers well”.

Only 4% of dissatisfied Tory supporters chose “not treating asylum seekers well” as a reason.

The survey of 3,000 adults online in July and August suggested that 48% of the public now supports reducing immigration – an increase from 42% last year.

There are more divisions along party lines on this issue, with more than two-thirds of Conservative supporters (67%) now favouring reducing migration, while just over a third (38%) of Labour supporters favour reductions.

More than half (56%) of Labour supporters said immigration numbers should either rise or stay the same.

More people (43%) think immigration has had a positive impact on Britain than the 37% who feel its effect has been negative, the research showed.

But negativity has increased by eight percentage points from 29% since 2022, those behind the survey added.


Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “The Government’s approach to immigration, particularly asylum and small boats, is disappointing everyone – but for different reasons.

“Liberals think it is inhumane, while hardliners think it isn’t achieving what has been promised. What they all have in common is the feeling that the Government isn’t doing a good job.

“Attitudes to immigration are nuanced but the sharp divide along party political lines means we should expect a noisier, more heated immigration debate as Britain heads towards a general election.

“But politicians won’t rebuild public trust by raising the volume of the debate – that will take workable solutions, particularly on asylum, that balance control and compassion.”

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “There is no simple answer to meeting voters’ demands on this issue, as views are split and often nuanced.

“For example, Britons also continue to support migration for specific sectors of work (especially health and social care), while control over who comes in is often as if not more important as the total numbers.

“But with an election on the horizon and attention on the issue of immigration and asylum unlikely to go away, there isn’t much trust in either of the main parties to get the balance right.”

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rhobert Davi8s
Rhobert Davi8s
8 months ago

Two thirds think it is too low. Two thirds think it is too high.

8 months ago

Meaning 1/3 of the public love dehumanisation and cruelty towards people “not like them”. I’ll bet I could predict several other demographics most of that third fit into as well. The “homogenised right” is a clear phenomena these days. They pigeonhole every group they are against and they even pigonhole themselves with a standardised bundle of views. They act as a mass on all issues. Then on the compassionate left, everyone is a self appointed expert. They read the science, they check the facts they debate and pontificate amongst themselves. A crowd of individuals bickering about minutiae, as the right… Read more »

John Davis
John Davis
8 months ago

Well I don’t know. What a bunch of ingrates. England, and Wales, voted to leave the EU and therefore the Dublin Agreement which made it easy to send back migrants to the EU. It’s not as if people didn’t know what they were voting for is it. Now the EU doesn’t have to take them back, and migrants know that, yet people are complaining as though somehow it’s not their fault.

It is. You voted for it. We had a referendum. You won. Get over it.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.