Public attitudes to immigration have warmed considerably in recent years. This paper – drawing on new analysis of attitudes data, including the British Election Study and the Ipsos immigration tracker – explores how views have changed and what this means for the current politics of immigration.

The evidence suggests there is now more scope for a welcoming, flexible, and fair migration system than many realise. Over the past decade, the public has become strikingly more positive about immigration across a range of indicators.

The public favour an immigration system which is well-managed, recognises contribution, and exercises compassion. There is also broad support for a compassionate approach to refugees.

In this paper, we therefore argue that there is now scope for a progressive narrative on immigration policy, and put forward an approach according to the principle of ‘rules-based openness’.