The official figures are out for last year’s net immigration and the data does not make happy reading for Theresa May, home secretary.

The Tories have promised to reduce the net inflows of people into Britain to “tens of thousands” by the end of the Parliament – just four years away. (Note my deliberate use of the phrase ‘Tories’ rather than ‘coalition’; the Lib Dems are not very keen on this one.)

For the year to December, however, the net immigration figure has in fact risen by 21 per cent to 239,000. While immigration didn’t rise much (it was up from 567,000 to 575,000) there was a big drop in emigration to 336,000, thus the rise in the net figure.

Damian Green, immigration minister, is taking solace from the idea that the numbers “stabilised” in the third quarter compared to the third quarter; but that is meaningless if they have stabilised at such a high level.

It was only a few months ago, April, that David Cameron swore that his government was getting to grips with immigration.

“This time last year, we said we would listen to people’s concerns and get immigration under control. Today I can confidently say that we are getting there.”

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