Seven out of ten adults want a massive cut in immigration, a poll has revealed. The YouGov survey found that just one person in 20 supports the current record levels, which have boosted Britain’s population by 300,000 a year over the past five years. The findings suggest immigration could become a significant election issue and sparked warnings that voters could turn to extremist parties if mainstream politicians fail to acknowledge their concerns.

The poll, commissioned by MigrationWatch for the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, was published on the eve of the release of immigration figures today. It found that 79 per cent of people were concerned or very concerned about immigration. Seventy per cent of the 2,072 respondents favoured cutting levels by 80 per cent or more. Of those, 17 per cent said net immigration should be brought below 50,000 a year – a level last seen in the early 1990s.

Another 39 per cent favoured a policy of zero net immigration, with the numbers settling in the UK matching the numbers emigrating. Sixteen per cent said the number of immigrants should be lower than those leaving. Just over half of more affluent voters – ABC1s – wanted either zero or negative net immigration, while 63 per cent of 18 to 34-year-olds favoured a figure below 50,000.

Home Office ministers say their new points-based immigration system represents a tough crackdown. [Crap! It affects only a tiny proportion of arrivals] But critics say it will have little effect, especially as Britain has no control over the numbers arriving from EU states, including eastern Europe.