Prominent Leave campaigners in the UK have long argued that freedom of movement will be replaced by an immigration system that will continue to attract the so-called “best and brightest.” There are reasons to doubt that.
A survey published by the KPMG consultancy suggests that while 45% of EU nationals living in the UK are planning to stay, 8% are planning to leave and 35% are weighing their options. That corresponds to 1,000,000 people considering an exodus from the UK.
Amongst those planning to leave the younger and brighter are overrepresented.
55% of respondents with PhDs and 39% with postgraduate degrees are thinking about leaving. More broadly, 52% of EU nationals making 50,000-£100,000 are considering leaving.
In key sectors, the absence of EU nationals may be felt. 42% of those working in the financial services, 41% of those working in education, 43% of those working in research and pharmaceuticals, 53% of those working in IT services, and 41% of health professionals are considering leaving.
The study comes as the Office for National Statistics released figures that suggest that over the last year there has been a sharp drop in EU net migration. And although the number of incoming immigrants from Europe’s poorest regions (Romania/Bulgaria) has surged, the outflow of EU citizens is far greater.
The future is bleaker on the “ best and brightest” spectrum of the scale.
The British government is already targeting EU students, which means new talent is unlikely to continue to flock to UK universities, especially given the prospect of harder to get student loans and, perhaps in time, the hassle of issuing student visas.
The UK still ranks third on the top five of the most desirable places to live in the EU, along with Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands. But, the perception of EU citizens is that the UK is changing for the worse.
People are motivated to leave for a variety of reasons, including the pound’s devaluation. To that one will soon add the undignified process of applying for residency. Overall, the main issue at hand is that they are not feeling welcome, as 66% of respondents of the survey suggested.
KPMG is a Swiss consultancy that operates 22 offices across the UK with approximately 13,500 partners and staff. It is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services that operates in 152 countries with 189,000 professionals staff. Their survey was based on 2000 EU citizens in the UK.