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There is now clear evidence of the impact of Brexit of immigration. The latest figures show that net migration to Britain fell by 106,000 in the 12 months before June of this year. According to the Office for National Statistics, EU citizens returning to their home states was the primary drive behind this “Brexodus”. EU citizens returning home made of three-quarters of this 106,000 fall in net migration. This is the highest level of EU citizens leaving the UK since the 2008 recession.
The quarterly migration statistics also show a reduction in the number of people coming to Britain to find work. This could be the result of improved opportunities elsewhere in the Europe and the weaker pound, which makes the UK a much less attractive destination for EU nationals.
According to Nicola White, the head of migration statistics, “the number of people immigrating for a definite job has remained stable but there has been a 43% decrease in the number of people immigrating to look for work over the last year, especially for EU citizens.” This drop in migration to the UK has been mirrored by a 13% drop in new applications for national insurance numbers.
There has also been increased uncertainty for the EU nationals living in the UK. 168,198 EU nationals were granted documents certifying their right to permanent residence in 2017, which was four times more than were granted the year before. The number of EU nationals applying for British citizenship has also more than doubled in the past year.
According to Jonathan Portes, an economics professor from King’s College London, this is bad news for the UK economy and he urges the government to take steps to reverse the decision. He said: “it cannot be good news that the UK is a less attractive place to live and work, and that we will be poorer as a result. If the government wants to make Brexit a success, it needs to reverse this.”
However, immigration minister Brandon Lewis was quick to claim the statistics as evidence that Brexit was working and “our system is delivering for business needs in the UK.”. He pointed to the tech industry as one area where the number of visas available has doubled.
Our skilled work visas issued has increased by 38% & we have doubled the number of tech visas we will offer. Good news for industry & attracting high skills from around the world.
— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) 30 November 2017