Indians are no longer the biggest immigrant group in Britain

Image: Reuters/Dylan Martinez
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For the people who voted for the UK to leave the European Union, curbing immigration from other EU countries was a major motivating factor. Statistics published today (Aug. 25) will help some to justify their decision.

For the first time, Poles are the biggest ethnic group of UK residents born elsewhere, the culmination of a rapid rise in migration since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

The UK has long been a destination for immigrants, particularly from former colonies like India and Pakistan, with which Britain has an intimate and far-from-glorious history. Indians were the biggest group of foreign-born UK residents from outside the British Isles since the Office for National Statistics began counting in 2000.

Poland joined the EU in 2004, along with nine other mostly former communist countries in eastern Europe. Since then, an influx from the countries has changed the makeup of the UK population markedly—one in 12 residents in 2015 was born elsewhere, compared with one in 20 in 2004.

Voting to leave the EU was particularly popular among some segments of society, including those with fewer qualifications and lower incomes who saw their jobs at risk from competition with immigrants. Following the referendum, there was also a rise in reported hate crime, and in one case the defacing of a Polish cultural center in London.