Immigration From EU Citizens Nosedives in Year Since Brexit Vote

The number of EU citizens moving to the U.K. has nosedived since the Brexit vote, alongside an increase in those choosing to leave, according to new quarterly migration statistics.

The update from the Office for National Statistics, released Thursday (30 November), said that while many more people are still entering the U.K. each year than leaving, the number—expressed as a "net migration" figure—has dropped by the largest amount ever recorded, with most of the change thanks to EU citizens.

The economist and migration expert Jonathan Portes said on Twitter that "it cannot be good news that the U.K. is a less attractive place to live and work, and that we will be poorer as a result."

Brexit Protest
Anti-Brexit protesters wave EU and Union flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, November 14, 2017 Peter Nicholls/Reuters

But Steven Woolfe, the independent MEP, Brexit campaigner, and former member of anti-immigration party UKIP said that "Long term migration [is] still high, and this number again highlights the greater need for Britain to have a brand new immigration system, starting on Brexit day one."

Net inward migration to the country in the year to June 2017 was 230,000, a slump of 106,000 from a June 2016 peak of 336,000.

That figure can be reached by subtracting the number of people leaving the U.K. in this time (342,000) from the number coming to live here (572,000, a drop of 80,000 on the year before.)

The change in behavior among EU citizens was especially stark. In all, 54,000 fewer EU citizens came to Britain to live in the year to June than in the previous year, bringing the total to 230,000, while 28,000 more EU citizens left the U.K., with 123,000 emigrating in this time.

Decreases were seen both in the numbers coming to Britain from the older (EU15) member states such as Italy, France and Germany, and the newer (EU8) member states such as Poland and the Czech Republic.

Another notable change was a big drop in the number of people coming to the U.K. "looking for work," rather than those who came to the country already expecting a "definite job," where the numbers remained stable.