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Brexit and international migration

John Salt at OECD Paris meeting

Brexit and international migration

Professor John Salt was in Paris on October 18-21, presenting his annual UK Report to the OECD’s Group of Experts on international migration.

The report, to be published on the Migration Research Unit website in December, contained the most recent statistics on UK migrant stocks and flows and UK policy developments.

John also presented UK evidence in a special session on Deportations, Removals and Readmission Agreements, emphasising that such data cannot indicate the scale of illegal migration.

As an EU member the UK is party to EU readmission agreements with 14 non-EU countries, under which it takes back UK offenders abroad, which may have to be renegotiated individually after Brexit.

The Brexit issue evoked some significant responses from representatives of other countries. There is widespread frustration at the lack of evidence from the UK government that it knows what it is trying to do. Such observations showed widespread indications of:

  • A preoccupation with the protection of EU nationals in Britain.
  • Concern for nationals leaving the UK for a third EU state, particularly in view of recent attacks on them.
  • High schools discouraging students from applying to UK universities.
  • EU nationals moving to formalise their stay in the UK, with increased movement there of family members.
  • A spike since June in applications for passports of other western EU states.
  • Healthcare concerns: Spain has 300,000 British citizens registered for health care, with an estimated 900,000 unregistered. Only an estimated 55,000 British living in Spain have private medical insurance.
  • Highly skilled emigrants from the EU to Britain are now returning to their home countries.
  • The falling value of the pound has reduced the attraction of the UK for low-skilled workers.

Finally, almost all other OECD states are encouraging international students to study there, and, unlike the UK, allowing them to seek jobs after study. They are thus actively recruiting those who might otherwise have come to UK universities.



Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

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