Pre- and Post-Brexit: Can the UK offer a safety net to the free movement threat?

Pre- and Post-Brexit: Can the UK offer a safety net to the free movement threat?

The news of the Brexit vote has shocked not only the whole of Europe but also the super-economies outside it, needless to mention the rest of the world. For years the European Union (EU) had been almost synonymous to its unsung leader, the United Kingdom, and its people’s decision to leave the politico-economic group exudes an image of economic uncertainties and subsequent policy changes.   The rather contentious referendum result has been made final, chiefly after the House of Commons agreed to support Prime Minister Theresa May’s call to stick to what the majority of Britain wanted. Though the formal negotiation process for triggering Brexit will begin in April this year, the UK’s present immigration policies remain precarious and blurry until that time. 
 
Indeed, the EU is adamant that the fate of the British nationals in their member countries depends on the UK government. This implies that their citizenship and rights could only be retained if May allows the EU citizens in the UK enjoy the same thing. Nevertheless, the possibility of reciprocation remains as blurry as the details of Brexit. There are no formal talks between the countries as of yet, perhaps because the EU leaders are still waiting on the UK’s final plans on Brexit, which includes specific policies and a comprehensive timetable. 
 
Today, as the country remains legally connected to the EU, it remains an attractive destination for immigrants. Employment opportunity is still at the forefront of the many reasons, with migration and tourism as a close second. The Office of National Statistics has the numbers. Just before the country voted for a deafening ‘leave,’ net migration had been hitting over 330,000 annually. In fact, from June 2015 to June 2016, over 700,000 foreign citizens entered the country for various reasons. In 2016 alone, over 280,000 of which came from the EU region. The 284,000 EU citizens who entered the UK from June 2015-June 2016 period were the highest ever the ONS has ever recorded. Sixty-three percent came to the country for work, while 22 percent were students.
 
As per post-referendum numbers, the public has yet to hear it from the ONS. According to a report by British Future, a UK-based think tank, many EU citizens are anxious about their future, especially those who haven’t stayed in the country for five straight years. But it urges the government to end speculations over their future, as it could have an adverse impact on maintaining positive relations with the EU as it gradually transitions to an economically independent nation.
 
"The government must make clear at the start of the Brexit negotiations that EU citizens already here before that date can stay,” said Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who also leads the report. "This would send a clear signal about the kind of country the UK will be after Brexit and the relationship we want with Europe.” There are naysayers and doubters as to whether the UK can leave the union without putting the migrants’ fate in peril. At the end of the day, the answer lies in the hands of the government if it can achieve such an insurmountable task. Nonetheless, government officials should remember that migration and free movement has fueled the economy for years, and taking it for granted could introduce many economy-shaking consequences.
 
For specific guidance on your UK visa or status, contact our Regulated UK Migration Consultants.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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