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Britain Continue to Attract EU Talent Post-Brexit?


The issue of migration represents a hot topic at the moment, particularly given the social divides created by Brexit and the UK poised to leave the EU in March 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the most recent figures suggest that the EU referendum result is already having an impact on net migration into the UK. More specifically, the net migration flow of European Union citizens into the UK declined to 90,000 in September last year, which was the lowest recorded level since 2012.

Just 12 months previously, the corresponding number was more than double at 189,000, and it’s not hard to draw a link between this and the Brexit vote. But is this really the case, and if so how will Brexit impact on the UK’s standing as a potential destination for anyone looking to relocate.

Why do People Migrate from EU Nations in the First Place?

Before we answer this question, we first need to assess why people relocate overseas. Fortunately, RSM Global recently produced a fascinating study into the movement of global talent, with one of the most interesting findings being that people migrate for a variety of different reasons depending on their country of origin.

If we look at the EU nations covered in RSM’s study, we see these various motivations laid out for all to see. Residents of Germany and Italy migrate for a lifestyle change, for example, whereas those in the Netherlands tend to relocate to places with better weather conditions.

Interestingly, Spanish citizens predominantly migrate in order to lower their cost of living, with the cost of utilities and Internet access far higher in Spain. Some residents here also have less income to spend on average than their British counterparts, so it’s little wonder that some migrate in order to improve their financial circumstances.

When determining whether or not Brexit has impacted directly on EU migration numbers into the UK, we need to factor in these findings. It would certainly have impacted on Spanish residents, with Britain’s inflation rate of 2.4% remains higher than the government’s 2% target and the cost of living having recently hit a five-year high.

Residents from Germany and Italy may still consider relocating to the UK in the current climate, however, as Britain’s unique heritage and cultural identity is considerably different from nations in central and western Europe. So, for EU citizens keen on embracing a new lifestyle, the UK may still offer value as a potential location.

The Bottom Line

There are also general factors to consider, of course, with Britain’s societal divides diminishing its reputation as a diverse, tolerant and ultimately inclusive haven.

Similarly, the notion of moving to the UK will now be more challenging for EU residents, with Britain no longer participating in the freedom of movement and future migrants likely to undergo a far more rigorous vetting process. The UK will also accept less EU migrants over time, and this will also have an incremental impact on demand.

Undoubtedly, Britain will become less desirable among EU residents post-Brexit, both from an ideological and a practical perspective. Of course, net migration levels may be offset by people leaving the UK and people relocating from outside of the EU, but this will only become apparent over a period of time.

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