So, the UK has voted to leave the EU – to “Brexit”.
What does that mean if you want to live and work here after the separation is complete, and why read this article?
Well, we have a lot of experience with the European immigration, both personal and professionally. Our opinion is not formed by social media or much that politicians say and our research is extensive and mainly focused on business outcomes.
There is much uncertainty at the moment but, as it’s always been easy for Nordics, Germans and Dutch to move to the UK for work or family reasons (yes, even before the EU!) we expect that most of our candidates will be unaffected after the uncertainty brought about by the exit vote is addressed by politicians.
The authors own Nordic Staff and, as a middle aged, pro-EU, Anglo-Swedish couple, we know what it was like to live and work in the UK before Sweden joined the EU – so, although this is only our opinion, you might want to read on……
Firstly let us look at what just happened from the point of view of the majority of UK voters:
- The UK voted to separate itself from an organisation that some voters saw as an un-elected Parliament and which has a net cost to the UK of £10,000,000,000 per annum
- That organisation failed to apply its own fiscal rules – resulting in Nations that were financially unqualified to join becoming members.
- EU members have long been pressuring the European Parliament to reform – with no success.
- The Eurozone is a “low growth” economy – the UK isn’t.
- The EU has failed to reach trade agreements with Australia, USA and Canada and the agreement with China dates back to 1985 (renegotiation started in 2007 and is ongoing) so the UK politicians seem certain that existing or new trade agreements will be in its favour. As the World’s 5th largest economy the UK is important to EU economies and vital to Germany.
- The Schengen agreement allows borderless travel in most of the EU, but that area has failed to protect the EU against illegal immigration. Ireland and the UK have opt-outs in respect of Schengen: Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, and Sweden have suspended their participation in response to illegal immigration.
- Net immigration (staying for 1 year or more) to the UK runs at about 330,000 every year. About 55% are non-EU using the UK Visa system for qualified workers and families. After working under Visa regulations for 5 years they are granted the right to remain in the UK. EU immigrants from Western/Northern Europe are usually skilled but half of the EU immigrants are from the “new” EU countries of Eastern Europe. They are predominantly unskilled (*Migration Watch) and they are the reason that so many low skilled UK voters voted for “out”. So the UK – half the physical size of Sweden – gets an inflow of a city the size of Malmö every year which is putting a massive strain on its support services and does not add to the wealth of the nation.
If you read the European press you will find that most of the original EU member states are having the same debate and the same problems.
In the UK, at the 2015 parliamentary election, the Conservative party promised a referendum in order to stop the flow of Conservative voters to UKIP – a party that is seen as right-wing and anti-immigration. UKIP still got 4 million votes and the referendum delivered them the result that they wanted. The UK does not have proportional representation, so UKIP has very little influence in Westminster at this time.
What happens now?
Nothing much – as far as EU membership is concerned.
The UK will not have left the EU until 2 years after formally notifying them. The Lisbon Treaty (article 50, since you asked) makes it clear that the Country leaving is in charge of the timetable up to that notification and the notification must 1st comply with the leaving country’s laws. That could be tricky as it requires 75% of UK politicians to vote against their beliefs because of an “advisory” referendum. Update: The High Court has determined that the Government must ask Parliament for authorization to start “Brexit”.
As it’s likely that the main political parties will have internal problems for the next 3 months it is probable that there will be a general election; so that the Government negotiating the Brexit will have been elected on a clear mandate – one that deals with the UK’s new reality.
Update: No election. New Prime Minister who accepts the referendum result. Parliament will need to decide on “hard” Brexit or “soft” Brexit so we are expecting the legal process to be lengthy. Parliamentary committees have now been formed to examine the Governments processes. Oh, hang on….. yes election in June.
Our current view is that Brexit will be the “Hard Brexit” option – but nobody really knows what the effect of 2 years of exit negotiations will bring so expect another couple of years “transition”.
And after Brexit?
The key to everything is business. Politicians from all parties have acknowledged the importance of foreign workers to the UK economy and there is much discussion around the Australian points-based system – but the UK immigration scheme for qualified workers seems to be the preference.
Our view is that, as far as the Nordics, The Netherlands and Germany are concerned, there will be nearly free movement – the exceptions will likely be those with a criminal record (or who are awaiting trial) and those that the UK Government would ban due to security concerns.
Pre “Europe” we (Nordics, Western Europeans)got 6 months in the UK – extended by visa if we were studying or had a job offer. We had basic access to the health system and no benefits entitlement unless resident. If it goes back to that status then Brexit will not really affect us.
What about work prospects?
Even better. If you want to set up an International business then the UK is already just about the best place in Europe to do so. Low tax and lack of bureaucracy make it easy to either run a huge International business from here or start a business that will grow without restrictions. Business borrowing is cheap and relatively easy.
The one thing that will hold businesses back is the lack of available staff with the required skills. Which is why skilled workers have always been able to live and work in the UK.
The UK’s diversity isn’t an accident and wasn’t forced upon us by laws.
And your language skills are in short supply in the UK.
Short term the UK economy is going to enter a period of uncertainty. What does that mean? We’re not certain – but it’s going to hurt.
Entry for workers seen as unskilled will be difficult.
Entry may be dependent on sponsorship from an employer.
There may be a cost involved in applying for a Visa.
You may need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself as a requirement of the Visa application process.
Our clients range from businesses that have sales of $17 billion per year to new media companies that are starting up in Europe.
Whilst they, like us, are watching the situation develop from day to day, none of them is reducing the number of vacancies that they are asking us to find applicants for.
We think that EU citizens will have the right to visit the UK for a fixed period (6 months?) and the right to work for an Employer that proves (via a work permit system) that the person has qualifications, such as language abilities, that cannot be found in the native population. So a Swedish speaker would be able to work in tech support toward the Swedish customers of a company but would not be able to come to the UK as an electrician. This is quite similar to the rules before Sweden joined the EU.
We think that there will be a rush of people to the UK who would rather get settled before Brexit than after.
Britain will grow quicker than any EU economy after a period of uncertainty.
Hard working people in Britain of all Nationalities will continue to thrive in a high employment, low tax, environment.
There will be tension between the UK and some Eastern European countries during negotiations.
We, like 75% of British politicians, would rather not be planning for Brexit now, but many see it as inevitable that the EU will fall apart as it is clearly unable to change at a pace that protects it’s members interests.
We think there will be a rush to the UK to get settled before Brexit – but that depends on politicians having some sort of a plan! We will have to wait for that.
It’ll be a bumpy ride for a while – we’ll try to keep this page up to date as the situation develops.
Hang on tight!
Simon (the Brit) and Charlotte (the Swede)
Owners: Nordic Staff Ltd
Recommended reading – bias indicated.
The Spectator Pro Brexit but balanced. The podcast is free. If you only have time to read one publication this is probably it.
Migration Watch – good numbers and links to information. Pro qualified immigration. VERY anti unqualified immigration.
nb. There are probably some mistakes in this article. We will correct them as we find them.