Concern about immigration has soared to its highest level in more than three years as small boats continue to cross the Channel.
A poll by Ipsos found one in five people listed immigration as one of the most important issues facing Britain today, up from one in ten in October and the highest level recorded since March 2019.
The survey was carried out between November 9 and 16, shortly after concerns were raised about overcrowded conditions at the Manston processing facility in Kent.
During the week the survey took place, government figures revealed more than 40,000 people had crossed the Channel in small boats this year while Home Secretary Suella Braverman signed a new deal with her French counterpart to combat the crossings.
The publication of the poll on Thursday coincided with the first anniversary of a fatal incident in the Channel, when at least 27 people died after their dinghy capsized while attempting to reach the UK.
An official investigation into the incident, also released on Thursday, found their inflatable vessel had reached UK waters, prompting relatives of the deceased to call for “justice” and an end to “poisonous rhetoric” on immigration.
The poll of 1,000 British adults found that Conservative supporters were especially concerned with immigration, with 42% listing it as one of the country’s biggest issues, while only 13% of Labour supporters mentioned the topic.
Older people were also much more likely to mention immigration as a key issue, with 30% of pensioners and 40% of those aged between 55 and 64 doing so. No other age group showed more than 16% of people mentioning immigration.
Overall, immigration was the third biggest concern in November, behind the economy and inflation but level with the NHS.
Both the economy and inflation were mentioned as concerns by 45% of people.
Mike Clemence, a researcher at Ipsos, said: “This month’s data reconfirms that the British public are predominantly worried about finances – both their own and the country’s.
“However, we have also seen a significant jump in concern about immigration, likely tied to news coverage of the volume of illegal crossings in the English Channel, with this a particular priority for Conservative supporters.”
Concern about a lack of faith in politics and politicians also increased, with 20% of people mentioning it as an issue compared to 16% in October and 9% in September.