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THE scale of Britain’s immigration crisis was laid bare last night with start ling figures showing the number of migrants here rocketed by more than a million in four years.

Between 2004 and 2007 the number of immigrants in the UK grew from 5.2 million to 6.3 million – an increase of 21 per cent.

The increase is equivalent to the population of Birmingham. Some parts of the UK saw their foreign-born populations increase by a third after millions of eastern Europeans got the right to live and work here when their countries joined the EU in 2004.

In London, traditionally a magnet for immigrants, one in three residents was born abroad by 2007 with the boroughs of Westminster and Brent having more foreign-born people than Britons.

The increase is equivalent to the population of Birmingham.

At the same time some areas, including Birmingham, Surrey and Sheffield, have seen a sharp decline in their British-born populations.

Many of the migrants were attracted by what was then a strong economy and the easy availability of low-skilled jobs that Britons did not want to take.

But with the economic downturn and rising unemployment, there are fears that the presence of large migrant communities could lead to rising hostility and an increase in support for far-right political groups.

The unexpected figures from the Office for National Statistics led to renewed demands for the Government to get a grip on a crisis that is threatening to cause serious unrest in Britain.

Critics claimed they provided fresh evidence of Labour’s failure to control Britain’s borders.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: “This is a huge rise in just four years. It is simply impossible for our country to absorb new arrivals at anything like this rate.”

And Shadow Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “We believe Britain benefits from immigration but it must be much better controlled.”

Most of the new arrivals settled outside the South of England, with the East seeing a 34 per cent rise in its non-UK born population.

Both the North-west and East Midlands recording 32 per cent increases, according to the ONS report.

Much of the increase came from residents of the countries which joined the EU in 2004 – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Of these, two-thirds were Polish, and Poland has replaced Pakistan as the third most common country of birth for immigrants living in Britain, after India and the Republic of Ireland.

EU member states cannot exclude citizens of other EU states. But the number of foreigners in the UK from outside Europe – more than four million in 2007 – far outweigh those from inside the EU, around 1.9 million.

The ONS report said: “In 2004 an estimated 8.9 per cent of the total population was non-UK born. By 2007 this had increased to 10.6 per cent.”

Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has admitted that the pace of change has caused problems, with Britain’s white working class feeling betrayed.

Earlier this year the ONS was accused by Immigration Minister Phil Woolas of “sinister” motives when it highlighted figures showing 6.5 million British residents were born abroad. continues here

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