Sun, Nov 04, 2007 - Page 6 News List

UK poll suggests immigration issues hurt Labour Party

AFP , LONDON

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's party is still trailing in the polls and 80 percent of Britons think his government is being dishonest about immigration, surveys showed yesterday.

A poll in the Sun newspaper showed the main opposition Conservatives at 40 percent, Brown's governing Labour Party at 35 percent and the Liberal Democrats at 13 percent.

The results would produce a hung parliament if replicated in a general election, Britain's biggest-selling daily said.

The Conservatives have been ahead for nearly a month after Brown, who took over from Tony Blair in June, decided against holding a snap early poll.

In a separate survey on whether the government had been honest about the true scale of immigration into Britain -- a topic which flared up last week -- 80 percent said it had not.

The government admitted on Tuesday to making mistakes regarding the number of foreign workers coming into the country, leaving Brown seeking to calm a simmering immigration row.

New figures also revealed that up to half of all newly-created jobs over the last decade of Labour government had gone to foreign-born nationals.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said she was "sorry" the government had to correct official figures on the increase in foreign nationals working in Britain since 1997, from 800,000 to 1.1 million.

Then, citing a written answer to parliament dug up from July, the Conservatives said the figure was actually 1.5 million people.

The Sun's poll found 51 percent strongly disagreed that the government had been honest; 29 percent tended to disagree; 11 percent tended to agree and 3 percent strongly agreed.

Asked whether public services would cope with the influx, 49 percent said they were not at all confident; 33 percent said they were not very confident; 11 percent said they were fairly confident and 4 percent said they were very confident.

Overall, 48 percent agreed immigration was good for Britain, 36 percent disagreed and 13 percent said neither.

IPSOS-Mori interviewed 1,013 random adults by telephone on Wednesday and Thursday.

The subject is a regular hot topic in Britain, with critics branding the asylum and immigration system as "open-door" and "chaotic."

The Daily Telegraph newspaper said in a report published yesterday: "All of a sudden, immigration is just another political issue, like housing or schools. There is no longer anything risque about raising the subject. We want settlers to come here; but we also want to have a rough sense of whom we are admitting, and in what numbers."

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