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Europeans leaving the UK

“Brexodus” Leads to 122,000 Europeans Leaving the UK in a Year

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When the UK leaves the EU in a few years, it might be doing so with a smaller population. New data from the Office of National Statistics revealed that 122,000 Europeans left the UK in the first quarter of 2017—a much larger group than normal—in what many are referring to as “Brexodus.”

Record Numbers

In the first quarter of 2017, net migration fell to 246,000, and EU net migration was down 51,000. According to the ONS, the drop is likely due to a much smaller number of people arriving in the UK From the rest of the EU, all while the number of EU citizens leaving the UK rose by 33,000.

“These results indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK, particularly EU and EU8 citizens,” said Nicola White, the head of international migration statistics. “It is too early to tell if this is an indication of a long-term trend.”

The large number of people leaving has led to an unprecedented drop in net migration, with numbers reaching a three-year low. The number of people leaving was up 31,000 from 2016 and the highest outflow in a decade. People are leaving for a number of reasons relating to last year’s vote for Brexit. According to official statistics, most people are leaving for a “definite job”, while others are leaving to join loved ones or look for work. However, the unofficial statistics paint a different story of what is really driving people to leave.

Uncertainty for EU Citizens

eva-schefferEva Scheffer, a Dutch aid worker, left the UK after Brexit (Photo: Independent.co.uk)

“I don’t feel welcome here anymore,” said Lukasz, a Polish man who has lived in the UK since he was eight years old. Lukasz says he has always felt the the UK was home, but increases in hate crimes, especially against the Polish, after the Brexit referendum have driven him away.

Other people from throughout the EU living in the UK have expressed similar sentiments. Cliff James took time to travel after the Brexit vote and spent time in more than six countries.

“Overnight, it felt like the country had returned to the Dark Ages of ignorance and hatred… I thought about staying and trying to fight this tide, but it felt overwhelming,” he said.

After seeing hateful messages and seeing the persecution some of his friends were facing, he joined a growing number of UK citizens applying for citizenship in Ireland so that they can maintain some sort of ties to the EU.

Thousands of people have already left the UK or are strongly considering leaving before Brexit officially occurs. For many people, it is returning to their home countries for fear of persecution. Others are returning to their native EU countries due to uncertainty in their rights when the UK is no longer part of the EU.

Brain Drain

London food market outdoor

The loss of people from the UK is about more than falling migration numbers; businesses have already raised concerns about brain drain from vital industries as skilled, educated workers leave the UK to find jobs elsewhere. Experts have already warned that Brexit could cause an “acute labour shortage” in a number of industries. A recent study by Deloitte found that nearly half of all highly skilled workers could leave the UK within five years—mainly due to uncertainty about their rights after Brexit.

Politicians are saying the “Brexodus” could damage the economy, universities, and public services. Some UK citizens are moving before Brexit to preserve their chances to live and work abroad. After the UK leaves, its citizens will not be able to freely travel to or work in other countries. And the end isn’t in sight: although the recent reports show a sharp drop in the number of immigrants, experts predict that the number will continue as a slow, steady exodus over the coming years.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.