IMMIGRATION SOARS FIVE-FOLD AS LABOUR LEAVES BORDERS 'WIDE OPEN'

THE number of immigrants granted British citizenship soared by half as much again to more than 200,000 last year, official figures revealed yesterday.

A total of 203,865 newcomers were handed UK passports during 2009, a rise of 58 per cent on the previous year.

The figure has increased by more than five times since Labour came to power in 1997.

The number of foreigners given the right to settle in the UK also rocketed by nearly a third to 190,000. Though not citizens, they can stay indefinitely.

Tens of thousands of immigrants were given the right to come to the UK to take up job offers last year, despite 2.46 million being unemployed.

Last night, critics warned that the figures – the last official update on immigration before the general election – confirmed that Labour has left the country’s borders wide open.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the population think-tank Migrationwatch, said: “There is no sign here of any reduction in immigration.

“We are still headed for a population of 70 million by 2030 unless the main political parties face up to the steps that need to be taken.”

The latest quarterly update on net immigration to the UK from the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that the influx is continuing despite the recession hitting jobs.

The number of grants of settlements linked to jobs – giving foreigners the right to stay in Britain but falling just short of full citizenship entitlements – rose from 37,000 in 2007 to more than 60,000 in 2008 and 81,000 last year.

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