Migration experts and rival politicians accused the Conservative-led Government of losing its grip on immigration policy as official figures revealed the net flow of migrants into the UK surged year-on-year by more than a third to 212,000 in the 12 months to September 2013.
A "statistically significant" leap in the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians was partly behind the rise, as 24,000 citizens from the eastern European countries arrived in the UK in the period, nearly three times the 9000 in the previous year.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Today's figures are good news for British workers. As our economy recovers, fewer people are choosing to emigrate as they see more job opportunities at home. In fact the number of people in work is at an all-time high and rising fast."