Brexit – it’s already official if it wasn’t before – has achieved the complete opposite of what its dogma promised: that net immigration to the United Kingdom is the highest in history. That of “controlling our own borders”, the motto of those in favor of leaving Europe, seems like a joke. Freedom of movement with the European Union’s neighbors is over, but the floodgates have been opened to citizens of Commonwealth countries and former colonies, to Hong Kongers repressed by the Chinese authoritarian regime and to Ukrainians fleeing the violence unleashed by Putin. Polish plumbers and Spanish waiters have been more than replaced by Nigerian students and Indian computer scientists who bring their families.

In 2022, according to figures provided by the Office for National Statistics, 606,000 more foreigners arrived in the UK than left, a substantially higher number than the 504,000 the previous year (an increase of 20%), and this despite the constant rhetoric of the Government that “the number must be reduced to a maximum of one hundred thousand people.”

But the dogma is the dogma and the social, political and economic reality is another. Elite universities that are part of British soft power require students from other countries to pay their fees, the pension system cannot keep up with an aging native population, and someone has to pick the strawberries and drive the trucks.

Despite all this, Europeans continue to leave as a result of Brexit and the bureaucratic demands made on them (51,000 more left in 2022 than those who came), with which sectors such as restaurants and hotels continue to be unable to hire all the staff you need. But net immigration from outside the European Union, a total of 662,000 individuals, has more than made up for that loss to the despair of those who think that “Britain should be for the British.”

The data has placed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the ropes, who has placed emphasis on reducing the number of migrants arriving in small boats through the English Channel, but has opened the doors wide to legal immigration , with the approval of the authorities. It is the innate hypocrisy of the issue, that, on the one hand, the Government appeals to nationalist votes with the promise of closing the borders, but on the other, it needs productive labor to do the jobs that the locals reject. More than five million Britons do not work and live on state subsidies.

Successive conservative governments, from David Cameron, have spent a decade and a half promising that immigration must be less than one hundred thousand people a year. But the truth is that it does not stop rising, and it has already far exceeded half a million per year. Brexit or no Brexit.