OUR biggest cities are thriving, their populations booming thanks to mass net immigration, especially from England and Poland.

Council leaders in both Edinburgh and Glasgow have a good story to tell. Their economies remain relatively vibrant and their universities and businesses more than able to attract both “new Scots” and expats returning home.

But can they keep the existing Scots they already have? Perhaps not. The headline news on the growth of both Edinburgh and Glasgow conceals a little secret: the cities both lose more people to other parts of the country than they attract; technically speaking they suffer net internal emigration.

READ MORE: Culture Cast: A new home for Edinburgh Printmakers 

Right now more than enough people from the rest of the UK and the rest of the world are relocating to Glasgow and Edinburgh to more than make up for this suburban flight. But with Brexit on the horizon, even if stalled, neither city is taking this for granted.

Both are putting in place schemes to not just lure new residents, but hold on to the ones they have, not least by providing the kind of housing wanted by families with children.

Edinburgh has one of the most ambitious council-led housebuilding programmes in the UK, with plans in place to create 20,000 affordable homes within the next ten years.

Council leader Adam McVey hopes this will “help people who want to move home within the Capital, remain in the Capital”.

Glasgow, meanwhile, has created a “City Centre Living Strategy” to increase the number of people living there over the next decade or so.

The figures show that both cities are enjoying huge net immigration from all sources - 5390 for Glasgow and 5088 for Edinburgh in 2016/17.

The capital in that year lured 8000 people from outside the UK and another 10,000 from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. These numbers, of course, include returning Scottish emigrants.

READ MORE: Extinction Rebellion protests: Mass demonstrations set for Edinburgh and London 

Glasgow has been growing relentlessly since just after the expansion of the European Union allowed freedom of movement Poland and other parts of central and eastern European. Edinburgh attracts more English newcomers than “foreigners”. In Glasgow, those arriving from overseas in 2016-2017, nearly 10,000, outnumbered those coming from other parts of the UK, under 7000.

It is no surprise that civic leaders are currently upbeat. However, the figures on internal migration, the movement of people within Scotland, are not so much fun for them to read.

Much neglected data from the National Records of Scotland show Glasgow and Edinburgh haemorrhage residents to their suburbs - and other parts of Scotland.

Last year’s figures show that 16,664 people moved to Glasgow and another 18,484 moved out to another part of Scotland.

South Lanarkshire was the biggest beneficiary of ex-Glaswegians, receiving 2600 people from the city.

Famously leafy East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire both lured away 2000, as did North Lanarkshire.

Over in the East, Edinburgh’s loss was even bigger than Glasgow’s, with net emigration within Scotland totalling 2,377.

Midlothian was the most popular destination for people leaving the capital, with more than 2000 flitting to that council area.

There was some cheer for Glasgow in its east-west rivalry as it managed to embrace more Edinburgers than Edinburgh took Glaswegians.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: “These numbers reflect a relatively static flow to and from Glasgow and the rest of Scotland, and sit within a trend of the city’s population increasing steadily from a low (in recent historical terms) of 578,000 in 2001 to 2017’s 621,020 – a trend that is expected to continue.”

He added that certain area of the city, including Finnieston and Kelvinhaugh, as well as the city centre, are experiencing “rapid growth”.

Mr McVey added: “Our city’s attractiveness contributes to its continued growth but we want to be a city where everyone has somewhere to call home and can share in Edinburgh’s success.”