Not Real News

Commuters walk through light snowfall on Westminster Bridge as temperatures dropped below freezing in London in 2021. On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming new figures from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics shows that three of the country’s largest cities, London, Manchester and Birmingham, are now all “minority white.” 

CLAIM: New figures from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics shows that three of the country’s largest cities, London, Manchester and Birmingham, are now all “minority white.”

THE FACTS: The claim excludes several subsets of data for white-identifying groups. The 2021 census data shows that white residents in London and Manchester across all categories still exceed 50% of the population, though Birmingham falls slightly under that. Following the publication on Tuesday of 2021 census data by the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, social media users misrepresented information about the demographic data to claim that white-identifying people are now the minority in three of the country’s largest cities.

Nigel Farage, a British broadcaster and former populist politician, tweeted to his 1.7 million followers that the data showed that “London, Manchester and Birmingham are now all minority white cities.” His post received more than 8,000 shares and 18,000 likes and spread across social media platforms. But the claim is inaccurate and excludes several subsets of data. While it is true that Birmingham now has a majority of residents who reported their ethnicity as nonwhite, the data released by ONS does not support this claim for London nor Manchester, where white-identifying residents still exceed 50% of the population.

ONS breaks down the ethnic group “white” into five categories, English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British; Irish; Gypsy or Irish traveler; Roma; and other white. Across all of these categories, the data shows that 53.8% of London residents identified as white, 56.8% of Manchester residents identified as white and 48.6% of residents in Birmingham identified as white. Isolating just the category “White English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Ireland or British” shows that this group was in the minority in London at 36.8%, Manchester at 48.6% and Birmingham at 42.9%. But using just that subset ignores the multiple other groups who also identified as white.

In a statement Wednesday, ONS responded to what it called “misleading statistics” being shared based on the census data. “There have also been misleading statistical claims that the latest census data show that white people are now a minority in London and Manchester,” the agency wrote. “This is confusing responses from people who have identified with the ‘white British’ ethnic group with responses which identify with ‘white’ ethnic group.” Farage did not respond to a request for comment.

— Associated Press writer Sophia Tulp in New York contributed this report.