Why Britain’s Exit Will Hit Migrants From EU The Most But Not Most Indians

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9:17 pm 25 Jun, 2016

One of the biggest concerns of the Brexit is how it would impact Indian workers living in European Union and UK. To understand this, one has to first understand the relationship between EU countries and the impact Brexit will have on workers in both areas.

EU rules state that anyone living in any EU country can travel to another EU country for work with just very basic paperwork.

Say, Mr. A lives in France – an EU country – and intends to travel and work in Germany – another EU country. All he has to do is just drive across the border and enter Germany. As per EU rules he can cross the border without a passport.


REUTERS/Phil Noble

REUTERS/Phil Noble

This is why, according to an estimate, there are around 1.2 million British citizens living in other EU countries. At the same time some 3 million non-British EU nationals live in Britain.

Brexit means that Britain will have its own set of rules regarding entry of migrants. (In fact, migrant issue was the principal rallying point for those with the ‘Leave’ campaign.) Technically, Britain is now a different country to EU citizens.

Now, entering Britain will not be easy for EU residents because of stricter paperwork which will lead to a more stringent process.




Those who’ll suffer the most are poorer migrants from EU. Technically, Brexit is a blow to their job prospects in Britain and they might, in worst cases, have to leave.

In a report, the TOI cites the example of around 20,000 Goans. They took Portuguese citizenship and work in the UK, an overwhelming number of whom do manual jobs. These are the kinds who risk losing from the Brexit referendum the most.

The youth wants more opportunities in a wider market, which is why they wanted Britain to remain in the EU. But the older generation, which faces stiff competition from cheaper young migrants, voted for exit. And the older group won.



Some Indian workers supported Brexit because of the threat from less-skilled migrants from EU countries.

“While many of us from non-EU countries were selected through a process of meritocracy, those from EU countries enjoy an unfair advantage of being allowed to live in the UK and access to public resources. That does not benefit the country economically,” one Indian professional told ET.

Indians going to work in Britain from India already pass through stringent process and qualify on the basis of merit. So Britain’s exit from EU won’t impact their entry. Job prospects due to the economic fallout is another matter.

Affluent Indians living in London overwhelmingly voted in favour of the ‘In’ campaign, which called for staying in EU. Indian business establishments too wanted to remain with EU.



That the markets tumbled like pins in a bowling alley was proof enough of what Brexit means for businesses. They will most likely lose many workers, who are migrants from other EU countries. At the same time, doing business with EU will become tougher, again because of a new set of rules.


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