A new Populus for the Daily Politics found that 52% of people agreed that “immigration, rather than other issues like health and education, is the most important issue facing Britain today”. This shouldn’t actually come as a surprise. While, until the recent mishaps in the Home Office, the issue of immigration has been relatively absent from political debate since the last election, it has remained one of the most important issues according to the open ended questions in MORI’s monthly political monitor. Politicians may have stopped talking about immigration, but it hasn’t disappeared from the public’s concerns.

Overall 59% of people thought that immigrants made a positive contribution to Britain’s economy. Opinion was pretty even across the country, but there was a contrast between social classes – ABs were more likely to think that immigrants made a positive contribution to the economy (65% to 29%) than DEs (54% to 40%).

Populus also asked about whether people were more bothered about immigrants from Europe than from the rest of the world. 46% said they were more worried about European immigrants, 49% said they were more worried about immigrants from further afield. I’m slightly hesitant about this question – people may have interpreted the question such that saying they are more worried about non-European immigrants would be tantamount to saying they didn’t mind immigrants as long as they were white, and hence the question might been influenced by people not wishing to appear racist.

65% of people said they thought that ID cards and tighter border controls would help to cut illegal immigration, 33% disagreed. Since this is asking about two separate policies, we can’t tell if people think that ID cards or border controls alone would help. The last poll to ask whether ID cards specifically would help reduce illegal immigration found that 55% thought they would.

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