Brexit and falling pound not affecting number of emigrants from the UK

Published:  2 Mar at 6 PM
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In spite of Brexit and the sterling crash, the numbers of UK citizens opting to leave has remained the same for the past two years.

Immediate reactions to the Leave campaign’s Brexit referendum victory had been expected to result in increased numbers of Brits fleeing from the effects of leaving the EU. However, the exodus hasn’t materialised as yet, with the latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) suggesting the numbers have remained static for the two years ending in September 2016.

Some 128,000 Britons emigrated last year, similar to the numbers for the previous year. However, the comparative numbers of British expatriates returning to the UK during the 2015/2016 period showed falls as against the 2014/2015 figures. During 2014/2015, 88,000 British nationals headed back home, whilst the 2015/2016 figures totalled 71,000, the lowest number since 1981.

In addition to the drop in the totals of returnees, a recent poll of UK expats living in EU member states showed 80 per cent of respondents fear losing their right to remain, with 25 per cent stating their main concern post-Brexit was the likelihood of being able to stay in their adopted country. Due to the fact the ONC data was based on a year-end date of September 2016, it’s difficult to estimate whether or not they fully represent the outcome of Brexit, especially given the reality that UK citizens may be forced to return at some time during the actual Brexit negotiations.

One strong influence on expat decisions has been the plight of sterling, especially for those living in Europe on a British state pension wilh little in the way of emergency capital as a backup. The pound is still depressed at eight per cent against the euro and 11 per cent again the US dollar, in spite of encouraging economic data causing growth forecasts to be revised upwards. Construction and manufacturing are Britain's most successful sectors, both performing better then was expected.

Reasons not to expect a sterling bounce include historically low interest rates, inflation hikes, slower wage growth and worries about consumer sentiment. Right now, the Brexit effect is an unknown quantity but could become the final contributor to a perfect economic storm.

Source: Hargreaves Lansdown
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