Net migration is continuing to rise, but this is largely explained by decreased emigration, rather than increased immigration.

Estimated net long-term immigration to the UK (the surplus of people immigrating over people emigrating) in the year to June 2010 was 226,000. This compares with 166,000 in the year to June 2009, an increase of around 35 per cent (but is still lower than the peak of net migration in 2004/05).

The increase in net immigration is due to the continued decline in emigration (down 13 per cent on the year to June 2009, and down almost 20 per cent since a peak of 427,000 in 2008) rather than any significant increase in immigration (up 1 per cent on the year to June 2009, and largely stable since 2004).

The fact that these statistics show rising net immigration - although this is driven by emigration rather than immigration - will no doubt be taken by anti-immigration groups as evidence that the government needs to be even tougher. In fact, the government should take a careful look at its objective of reducing total net immigration to 'tens, rather than hundreds, of thousands', as meeting that aim looks likely to have serious economic costs for the UK.