The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics shows net migration – the difference between the number of people entering and the number of people leaving the UK – showed net migration was 330,000 for the year ending March 2015.
That is 40 per cent higher than the same period in 2014 and surpasses the highest net migration figure on record – 320,000 for the year ending June 2005.
“These stark figures are deeply disappointing,” said Immigration Minister James Brokenshire.
“While these figures underline the challenges we need to meet to reduce net migration, they should also act as a further wake-up call for the EU. Current flows of people across Europe are on a scale we haven’t seen since the end of the Second World War.
“This is not sustainable and risks the future economic development of other EU member states. It reinforces the need for further reform at an EU level as well as within the UK.”
The Conservative government set a target in 2010 of bringing net migration into the “tens of thousands”. Despite an initial fall in net migration to a low of 153,000 in 2012, since then the figures have continued to rise.
In 2011, as he reiterated the “tens of thousands” target, Mr Cameron said: “With us, our borders will be under control and immigration will be at levels our country can manage. No ifs. No buts. That’s a promise we made to the British people. And it’s a promise we are keeping.”
In the run up to the 2015 general election, Home Secretary Theresa May again pledged to keep the migration target.
And on Thursday the Institute for Directors and think-tank British Future criticised the government for “scrabbling around” to try and hit “a bizarre and unachievable migration target”.
Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “By announcing polices on the hoof every time new figures come out, the government betrays its lack of a long term plan on migration.
“Scrabbling around to find measures to hit a bizarre and unachievable migration target is no way to give British businesses the stable environment they need.”
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “This government was elected on the importance of setting out a credible long-term plan and delivering it. “Immigration policy should be no different – setting sensible and achievable controls on migration in a way that is consistent with the economic recovery.”