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Analysis

Exodus of EU workers is vote of no confidence in UK economy

by Luke Lythgoe | 15.08.2018

There has been the biggest drop in EU citizens working in the UK since the ONS began recording such data – that’s despite low levels of unemployment and plenty of vacancies to fill. While Brexiters may hail this as a good thing, in reality it highlights how the referendum vote has depressed wages and clobbered the pound making working here less attractive. This vote of no confidence in the economy will further damage our public services and our prosperity.

The number of EU workers dropped by 86,000 in the three months between April and June compared with figures a year earlier, the ONS revealed. This was driven by a 117,000 decrease in workers from Poland and seven other Eastern European countries. The number from older EU member states such as Germany, France and Italy also dropped by 23,000, while there was a rise in Romanian and Bulgarian workers by over 50,000.

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With a no-deal Brexit looking increasingly possible, EU citizens have no idea whether they’ll be able to stay in the country after March 2019. The plunging pound and booming economies in Eastern Europe make moving to the UK for work – or staying here – less appealing.

“This uncertainty… as well as the emotional burden that the separation of migrant families entails, means that some Polish people, who have been living in the UK for years, might have decided to return to Poland or would have held the decision to come to the UK,” Arkady Rzegocki, Polish ambassador to the UK, told The Times.

Meanwhile, the NHS has seen a sharp rise in EU staff leaving since the Brexit vote and a drop in new applications from the bloc. In the private sector, industries from construction and hospitality to finance and fruit picking are losing key workers. Earlier this week, human resources chiefs reported a “supply shock” across the economy with skills shortages left by a shortfall in EU workers.

As EU workers leave, we are plugging the gap by more migration from outside the bloc – the number of non-EU workers in the UK rose by 74,000 in the latest figures. But that won’t be enough to stop our economy becoming less attractive and less competitive on the global stage.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

Tags: , , , , Categories: Economy, Migration

3 Responses to “Exodus of EU workers is vote of no confidence in UK economy”

  • It is time to stop the process not have another vote. The same people who managed to manipulate public opinion and gain a small yes to leave are still there. They are standing in the shadows sharpening their swords and they will be difficult to identify, let alone defeat. Corbyn is being an idiot about this anti-semitism issue but I would bet that keeping this on the boil is just a warm up for the anti EU folk.

    CANCEL BREXIT and save our country, please. And get Corbyn back to work protecting the public.

  • From the day that the result of the EU referendum was announced, nationality has become an issue in the UK. It took just 24 hours for this to happen and to create an entirely new situation for EU nationals living in the UK.

    EU nationals believed, and understandably so, that they were not wanted in the UK except possibly if their skills were needed. Irrespective therefore of any economic or other considerations this feeling of not being welcome any more in the UK has naturally had an impact on the numbers of EU citizens already in the UK and those thinking of coming.

    It is quite unbelievable that the government continues to be unaware of the damage they are doing to relations with our EU partners.

  • I think it is the harm to cultural relations in Europe which is one of the most damaging effects of Brexit. I honestly don’t think Europe is complete without our input, but its a 2 way thing as so many European things are an inspiration to us. There’s bound to be a reduction in contacts at all levels. The EU people now leaving the UK are not going to have the best memories. I follow a German forum based in London, and a number of them are sick of it all, and these are people who arrived thinking Britain was a dynamic, outwood looking country. And these are people relatively secure with decent jobs who would probably be entitled to stay. This will come back to bite us in future generations.
    And idiots like Hunt keep repeating lines that he values our cultural relations with Europe, whilst his actions demonstrate the exact opposite.