The number of EU citizens living and working in the UK has dropped significantly in the year following the “Brexit” referendum, which saw the British public voting to leave the European Union.
Recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that over 122,000 Europeans chose to leave the country permanently in the year after the decision was made, despite the terms of Britain’s exit being still under negotiation.
In addition, this twelve-month period saw a huge decline in the number of people immigrating to the UK from European countries and an overall decline in total immigration from other countries worldwide. This coupled with 122,000 citizens leaving the UK has resulted in an astounding 25 per cent decrease in net migration compared to the previous year.
The head of migration statistics said: “The net migration change was driven by an increase in emigration, mainly for EU citizens and in particular EU8 citizens, and a decrease in immigration across all groups.” She went on to say that these results give a clear indication that the Brexit referendum results have influenced people’s decisions to move in or out of the UK.
The UK government stand by their pledge to continue reducing net migration to a figure below 100,000 – it currently stands at 246,000 since these latest figures have been published. However, experts warn that the government’s target may be unrealistic, that a continuing decline in net migration is unsustainable and could have terrible consequences for the UK economy.
Head of employment skills policy at the Institute of Directors, Seamus Nevin has expressed concerns that the sheer volume of EU nationals leaving Britain will result in a labour shortage, given that national unemployment is already at an all-time low of 4.5 per cent.
Immigration for study purposes has also fallen across all nationalities, with the home office banning 900 colleges around the country from bringing in international students. Seamus Nevin warns that closing the door to international students will threaten the UKs position as the second most desirable country for higher education enrolment, and damage the economy, which is already growing at half the rate of Eurozone countries due to Brexit-related inflation.
At present there is no way to know if the number of Europeans leaving Britain will continue to rise in the coming years, though experts have suggested it may if the situation for those residing in the UK does not improve.
The number of reported hate crimes aimed at Europeans living in Britain sky-rocketed in the aftermath of the controversial Brexit vote, with EU8 citizens from countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic being targeted the most. It is hardly surprising that many Europeans living in Britain have expressed feeling uneasy and unwelcome as a result of these events, with many making the decision to return to their own countries or emigrate elsewhere as their future in the UK becomes ever more uncertain.