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A quarter of Britons believe all immigrants should be returned to their home countries, according to a new poll by a think-tank.

A survey conducted for British Future found 25 per cent of people agreed that the government should “insist that all immigrants should return to the countries they came from, whether they’re here legally or illegally”. A small majority – 52 per cent – disagreed with the statement, while the remainder neither agreed nor disagreed, in a poll of 2,000 adults by ICM.

The poll also found that Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader, was the most trusted politician on the subject of immigration.

The survey reported that 34 per cent of interviewees said they trusted Mr Farage on immigration, compared with 30 per cent who said they trusted David Cameron, the Prime Minister.

Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, was trusted by 27 per cent on immigration, followed by Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister, on 23 per cent.

The 140-page study said liberal, pro-immigration arguments could often lead people who were undecided on the issue to “harden” their attitude against immigration.

“Ukip’s critics were shrill and too quick to accuse the party of being racist when most of the public did not feel it had been,” said the report, discussing May’s European elections in which Ukip took 24 seats and 28 per cent of the vote.

“While this reassured liberals who would never consider supporting Ukip, it carried little weight with those who were thinking about voting for them – in fact it may have increased the party’s ‘outsider’ appeal.”

Research for British Future, a non-partisan think-tank whose director was previously the head of the Fabian Society, also found nearly one in six people want a vote in an in-out referendum on the European Union.

And more than seven out of 10 people want more of a say in the way Britain’s immigration policy is handled.

British Future urged ministers to set up an annual “Migration day”, similar to Budget day, when immigration policies are a set-piece in the House of Commons.

Sunder Katwala, the think-tank’s director, said: “Politicians on all sides have too often treated the public like children when it comes to immigration.

“Voters are more mature than politicians think.

“Most people would prefer smaller promises on numbers, provided those promises are kept.

“They want a system that’s effective and humane, and understand that might cost more money.

“They think Britain should play fair with migrants who come here, provided they’re here to work and are willing to learn English and fit in.”

The think-tank suggested the immigration budget should be ring-fenced in the next Parliament.


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