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Britain’s foreign-born population has doubled to 9 million people in the last decade, stirring a debate about immigration and social cohesion, a research group’s analysis shows.

Around half of births in major U.K. cities in 2019 came from a mother born outside the U.K., according to a reading of official government data by the pressure group Migration Watch U.K. Ethnic minorities are now a majority in cities including London, Slough, Leicester and Luton.

These findings revive concerns about the scale of immigration into the U.K. before the pandemic, which fanned support for Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and drew voters to the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“The rapidly changing nature of our towns and cities poses serious risks for integration and will be a real concern to many in this country," said Migration Watch U.K. Chairman Alp Mehmet, calling for a curb on immigration.

The U.K.’s relatively large foreign-born population is a legacy of Labour and Conservative governments opening the door to immigrants in the last two decades, a policy aimed at ensuring the economy had enough workers to grow without boosting wages and inflation. 

 

Britain's immigrant baby boom
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Britain's immigrant baby boom

Now with the pandemic and Brexit making it more difficult to cross borders, both wages and consumer prices are on the rise. Groups such as the British Meat Processors Association have been calling on the government to relax policy to enable labor from abroad filling domestic shortages.

 

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