EU expats working in UK equally threatened by Brexit

Published:  7 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, UK, Euro, Emigration, England
Over the last two weeks, much has been written about the fear and fury of UK expats retiring, living and working in other EU member states, but EU expats at present domiciled in the UK are under the same threat of being forced to leave.

What might not have been realised by those voting for Britain to leave the EU is that not all immigrants heading to and living in the UK are poverty-stricken refugees or low-skilled workers. Many thousands of highly qualified specialists in the fields of medicine, engineering, construction, finance and other sectors are as much at threat of being unable to stay in the UK as are expats overseas unable to stay in their country of choice.

One example, news that a number of EU doctors offered positions within the hard-hit NHS are now changing their minds about accepting due to the Brexit effect on their long-term employment, encapsulates the problem. Long-planned infrastructure projects are already being delayed due to uncertainty, and many businesses are worried that valued EU expat employees might have to return to their home countries.

Five of Britain’s major business groups, the British Chambers of Commerce, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, the EEF and the Institute of Directors have put together an open letter stating that the inability post-Brexit to retain talented EU expats is certain to cause difficulties. The government, they note, should provide action and clear leadership on two essential fronts.

Their letter states the uncertainty surrounding the futures of EU nationals working in the UK should end, as should the spike in anti-immigrant violence recently seen in UK cities. It points out that affirmation of the long-term right for EU nationals to stay in the UK should be given, as the skills provided by these expat workers are crucial to business success at present, and will continue to be so in the future.

Other matters causing post-referendum concern include the postponing of airport expansions, critical housing and energy schemes. CEO of the National Health Service’s executive division Stephen Dalton is concerned that the effect on the workforce of triggering Article 50 might also trigger a wave of uncertainty-based resignations by EU expat staff. Given the present shortage of qualified British medical professionals due to emigration, the loss of European staff due to Brexit would be a disaster for the service.
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