Brexit – What Next for Immigration?
Immigration was, without question, one of the key themes of the Brexit referendum campaign. Whilst it is possible to argue that this was the result of an opportunistic conflation of political issues that had little to do with membership of the EU, the blunt fact is that Brexit will inevitably have a bearing on those coming to live and work in the UK form overseas. Whatever else it brings with it, Brexit will materially affect the lives of people seeking to live and work in the UK.
Regrettably for those who trumpeted the benefits of Brexit as much as those directly affected, quite what those effects may be is unclear. For all the busses splashed with slogans and energetic speeches telling us how great Britain can be again, there is a lamentable lack of detail to back them up.
At the moment the UK is in limbo. Politically, economically and in terms of its place in the world, we are faced with a road map without roads. No-one can say definitively what living and working in the UK will entail in the future.
Ongoing Cause for Concern
This is, inevitably cause for concern for those already working in the UK, just as it is problematic for anyone considering their mid-term future plans. No-one can say, for example, what the status of EU workers will be in the UK once the formal process of enacting Article 50, and negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU is completed – if indeed it ever will be.
A Less Attractive Destination
Given that uncertainty, and allied to the outpouring of anti-immigrant sentiment that the referendum appears to have unleashed, it seems as though – whatever the political rhetoric – one immediate effect of Brexit is to have made Britain a less attractive destination for the world’s brightest talents. And this extends beyond the narrow (and somewhat distorted) discussion of EU workers.
It is a scientific truism that nature abhors a vacuum. Uncertainty on the current scale is the political equivalent of that condition. It is not a situation that can be allowed to continue without serious harm being inflicted on the UK’s global reputation and – in turn – its economic status. Reducing the UK’s level of immigration by running down its economy was not on the ballot paper.
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