UK’s net migration saw a huge drop last year because of Brexit and Covid restrictions, official data suggests.
The difference between people coming and leaving the UK dropped by a massive 88 per cent last year, the Office for National Statistics has found.
Despite admitting Brexit was partly to blame for the figures, the ONS highlighted there was “no evidence of an exodus” from Britain and argued it was “difficult to disentangle” the end of free movement from the effect of Covid travel restrictions.
EU and non-EU migration
But a study first reported by The London Economic in August found “a sizeable proportion” of EU citizens intend to leave the UK in the near future because of Brexit.
The statistics body found net migration in 2020 was 34,000, compared to 271,000 in 2019 – and argued the UK saw the lowest level of net migration for many years last year.
And although net migration from the EU was negative last year, with 94,000 more EU nationals leaving Britain than arriving, this is not the case with non-EU migration.
“Non-EU net migration has been gradually increasing since 2013, and as at the year ending March 2020, is at some of the highest levels seen since International Passenger Survey (IPS) records began for this group in 1975,” the ONS said last year – suggesting an increase in net migration had been noticed since 2019 because of the non-EU migration surge.
An estimated 316,000 more non-EU citizens are thought to have moved to the UK than left in the year ending March 2020.
EU citizens’ ‘sense of home’ damaged by Brexit
Meanwhile, a survey carried out earlier this year found that 58.62 per cent of the EU respondents believe Brexit increased the likelihood of them leaving the UK.
The research revealed that the proportion would be even higher if it weren’t for practical concerns, like pension rights, forcing Europeans to remain in the UK.
The majority of respondents have a university degree, and 82 per cent are in some form of employment, with work the overwhelming reason why the majority of the respondents moved to the UK. On average, respondents have lived in the UK for almost 19 years, and 82.2 per cent live in England.
Nonetheless, the study highlights the extent to which EU citizens’ sense of home has been damaged by Brexit – with data suggesting they are now feeling less attached and more insecure about their lives in the UK.
One respondent said: “This was firmly my forever country. Now, much less so, not just Brexit although that is the main driver, but [also the] Tory government, corruption, hostile environment, rising inequality, reduced public spending.”
Another revealed Brexit had made them “unsettled”: “I have never thought about leaving before Brexit. I had even written in my will that I wanted my ashes to be spread in the Yorkshire Dales.
“After the referendum I was so disappointed with the country and personal friends that my perception changed and I can’t see myself retiring here.”