VETERAN TV star Noel Edmonds sparked an immigration row today when he declared: “Britain is full”.
The Deal or No Deal host made the observation after missing a crunch business summit because he was caught in road gridlock on his way from his home to Bath.
It prompted him to take to Twitter to say: “Just tried to get somewhere. Allowed loads of time but abandoned journey. Am I alone in feeling Britain is full?”
His comments immediately struck a chord with many who think Britain is “full up and fed up” thanks to years of uncontrolled immigration.
The former Radio 1 Breakfast Show presenter said: “But just supposing, I know it’s a ridiculous thought, crazy even, totally insane obviously, but supposing UK’s full?
“It’s just an interesting thought isn’t it? Surely there’s a finite capacity for everything?”
His observation comes after latest figures showed net migration to the UK is at a record high, reaching 330,000 in the year to March.
Speaking to the Daily Express later after coming under fire on Twitter for his comments, Mr Edmonds, 67, said: “I asked the question because I am genuinely interested in other people’s opinions. I think it’s quite an important question.
“I failed to get to an important meeting having given ample time. As I was sitting in traffic I wondered, ‘is Britain full’?”
Asked if he felt Britain was full he said: “Obviously I do. It feels as if it is full. My question is, ‘am I alone’? If I am being sensible I will wait to get the picture.”
Mr Edmonds found support yesterday from leading businessman Duncan Bannatyne who said: “No you are not alone Noel.”
Ukip MEP Jill Seymour added: “Noel, we are full – our major infrastructure whether that be roads, hospitals and schools are at breaking point.”
Mr Edmonds’s comments echo the thoughts of Ukip leader Nigel Farage who in 2014 blamed high levels of immigration and the state of the M4 for missing a crunch event in Wales.
Mr Farage said: “It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here – it should have taken three-and-a-half to four.
“That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be.”
The reaction to Mr Edmonds’s comments were seen as an indication of the strength of feeling about Britain’s membership of the EU ahead of a referendum later this year.
Mr Farage said: “With net migration into Britain now running at over a third of a million a year the impact on Britain’s infrastructure has been huge, whether we talk about roads, hospitals or school places. Of course the only way that we can bring numbers down to sensible levels is to leave the European Union and take back control of our borders.”
Net migration – the difference between the number entering the country and those leaving – is more than three times higher than the Government’s target.
Officials partly blame the figure – smashing the highs set after Labour opened the floodgates in 1997 – on an “over reliance” on foreign employees.
It has prompted business leaders to dismiss the Government’s target to reduce net migration to tens of thousands as “unachievable”.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire, the man responsible for securing Britain’s borders, has called the rise “deeply disappointing”.
“Over the passage of time we all acquire rose-tinted spectacles but there are very common sense things that don’t appear to be done. My heart is very much here, I am just fortunate to have more than one home.”
There are currently 64.6million people living here but estimates suggest the UK population is set to increase by 4.4million in the next decade before reaching 70million in 2027.
Former Shadow Home Secretary and Daily Express columnist Ann Widdecombe said: “There is certainly no denying that we are an overcrowded island, that is why there is such pressure on our health service, housing and transport. You can control immigration, not just say ‘we are full up and that is the end of it’. We are not in control of our borders but we can control it somewhat better.”