It has emerged recently that net migration from the EU has dropped to under 100,000 people. This is a sign that the thought of Brexit is beginning to take effect. The major worry for British businesses is that they will not be able to bring in the staff that they need from Europe. So far, freedom of movement has not been confirmed or denied in the negotiations between David Davis and his negotiating team and his opposite number Michel Barnier who is negotiating on behalf of the European Union.
Britain relies heavily on EU migration to keep filling it’s burgeoning economy, the 2008 financial crash did significant damage to the British economy. Much of this has now been offset by the explosion in working adults that has been a side effect of freedom of movement. The worry for many is that if EU citizens stop coming to the UK, the UK will quickly run short of the labour that it needs to carry on expanding. This concern is bearing out with these early figures.
It’s of little surprise that EU citizens are reticent to commit their future to the UK, as it stands, it appears that there is little chance of freedom of movement staying after March 2019. With that in mind, there’s no clarity on the future of these people if they come to the UK. The British government continues to insist that provisions will be made and of course the newly negotiated transitional controls will also help, but there is nothing sure about coming to the UK at this time for EU citizens.
The raft of changes that is expected is likely to impact immigration significantly in the UK. As of now a large proportion of immigrants come to the UK come from the European Union and this of course is likely to change significantly if the rules on freedom of movement are modified significantly or indeed scrapped completely. It is now on the British government to try and quickly settle this issue and give European citizen s the surety that they surely want.
It’s not just European citizens who want their future sorted, there is also the case of the millions of Brits who travel and live abroad – Southern Spain especially has many migrants from the UK who benefit from the European Union’s freedom of movement and these may be punished heavily as the future of the much disputed Gibraltar still has not been sorted. The Spanish also continue to use the rock as a bargaining chip against the British.
Many will only hope now that Prime Minister Theresa May and David Davis can finally reach a swift resolution with their EU counterparts and provide surety all round. That will hopefully bring net migration back up to levels that were previously enjoyed. Though at this stage it seems unlikely that any resolution will be swift. There are too many different actors who have too many different interests to allow for a quick resolution that everybody needs.