Migrant workers arriving in the UK will be 60 per cent higher than previously thought, the government’s economic watchdog has warned.
The forecast was made alongside findings that Brexit has had a “significant adverse impact” on UK trade, and as a fresh poll suggested even Brexiteers were now questioning whether leaving the EU was the right move.
The OBR said it now assumes net migration into the UK will be 224,000 in 2023, up from its previous forecast in March of 136,000. It added that from 2026, net migration into the UK would settle at 205,000 a year, up 60 per cent on its previous estimate of 129,000.
The OBR said: “This upward revision reflects evidence of sustained strength in inward migration since the post-Brexit migration regime was introduced.
“It also reflects discussions with the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee over what levels of net migration for the next several years might be consistent with the current migration regime.
“Moving to this higher net migration assumption adds 0.6 per cent to the adult population at the forecast horizon.”
On trade, the OBR added that Brexit will lead to a 15 per cent fall in UK “trading intensity” over the long term after reducing trade volumes and business relationships between UK and EU firms.
Trade was also hit by slowing global economic growth, the OBR’s economic and fiscal outlook said.
In its assessment of Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, the OBR said: “Near-term growth in exports and imports is lower than in our March forecast as slowing global GDP [gross domestic product] growth hits exports and a weaker outlook for consumption and investment weighs on imports.
“Our trade forecast reflects our assumption that Brexit will result in the UK’s trade intensity being 15 per cent lower in the long run than if the UK had remained in the EU.
“The latest evidence suggests that Brexit has had a significant adverse impact on UK trade, via reducing both overall trade volumes and the number of trading relationships between UK and EU firms.”
The OBR also forecast that the Government would pay a further £18.9bn to Brussels under the terms of the Brexit divorce deal between 2022-23 and 2027-28.
During his speech to MPs, Mr Hunt did not refer Brexit, but did say that “the OBR confirms global factors are the primary cause of current inflation”.
The OBR’s comments come as support for Brexit has fallen, according to new polling.
A survey from YouGov revealed only 32 per cent of Britons believe it was right to leave, while 56 per cent believe it was wrong.
The gap is the largest yet and marks a big swing in opinion. Polls before the 2017 general election showed that more people believed Brexit was right.
Even among people who voted in favour the UK’s exit from the European Union, almost one in five now believe it was the wrong decision.
Over the past 18 months, the percentage of Brexiteers who believe voting to leave the EU in 2016 was the right decision has dropped from 88 per cent to a record low of 70 per cent.
Remain voters are more likely to have stood by their decision, with nine in 10 still believing Brexit was wrong.