Labour leads Tories in poll on immigration as figures set to show migration rise

Labour is more trusted than the Conservatives on immigration, a new poll has found as official figures are expected to show a large increase in net migration.

After a rise in public confidence in the Tories’ immigration, asylum and small boats policies in March, a poll carried out by Ipsos between May 16 and 18 found trust had fallen again, with Labour leading on all three issues.

The poll found 38% of people trusted Labour to have the right policies on immigration and asylum seekers, and 37% trusted the party to handle the issue of small boats crossing the Channel.

Just 29% said the same about the Conservatives on immigration, with 28% trusting them on asylum policy and 27% trusting them on small boats.

Cabinet meeting
Public approval of Suella Braverman’s performance as Home Secretary remains low, an Ipsos poll has suggested (James Manning/PA)

But there was also widespread pessimism about both parties’ policies on immigration and asylum, with 50% saying they did not trust Labour and more than 60% saying they did not trust the Conservatives.

Among Conservative voters, trust in Government policy is higher but still does not exceed 50%.

The figures come as the Office for National Statistics prepares to release its latest figures on net migration on Thursday morning, which are expected to show a significant increase thanks in part to high numbers of refugees from Ukraine and Hong Kong.

Such an increase is expected to fuel demands from Conservative backbenchers for tougher action on immigration, while Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, has previously said she is in favour of getting net migration down below 100,000.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 British adults, found the public was split on its priorities for immigration policy.

Some 23% of voters said the Government should prioritise getting overall immigration down even if it meant job vacancies going unfilled, but 24% said the focus should be on filling vacancies even if it meant a rise in net migration.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
The public is more likely to trust Labour on handling the issue of small boats crossing the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

People who voted Conservative in 2019 were more likely to favour a focus on cutting overall migration numbers, with 40% saying this should be the priority, but there was no clear majority for either position.

The poll also found little change in opinions on Mrs Braverman’s performance as Home Secretary, with just 19% saying she was doing a good job and 37% saying she was doing a bad one – around the same figures as in March.

The poll was carried out before the latest row about her handling of a speeding ticket that resulted in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak deciding not to order an investigation by his adviser on the Ministerial Code.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “After seeing a boost in confidence in their handling of immigration in March, trust in the Conservatives on this issue has dropped back again.

“This is reflected in the views of their own 2019 voters, who are the most likely to think that net migration is rising, although their own supporters are still more positive than earlier this year.

“Labour now has a lead on this issue, although public confidence is not high in either party. The lack of consensus around how the country should balance the competing priorities of unfilled job vacancies and migration also suggests that regaining public confidence will not be straightforward.”