Brexit has left “permanent scars” on EU citizens living in the UK, research shows

Written by Javed Iqbal

Six years later EU referendum, Brexit has left “permanent scars” on European nationals living in the UK, according to a new study.

Two-thirds of EU and EEA nationals living in the UK who took part in the study said Brexit had “significantly – and mostly negatively – affected their feelings for the UK”, said researchers from University of Birmingham and Lancaster University.

And many of the 364 respondents said Brexit had made them reconsider their future in Britain and undermined their confidence in British institutions and politicians.

In comments that the researchers said reflected the experience of several participants, a 64-year-old French-born naturalized British female respondent said: “I will forever remember that Thursday in 2016 when I woke up and saw the result.

“I was crying. I was going to work. I felt betrayed, unheard of, cared for, left to wonder about my life in the UK and what had been meant.”

Respondents expressed a strong sense of attachment to the EU triggered by the referendum and the subsequent Brexit negotiations.

A 55-year-old woman with dual citizenship said she only had a “vague” understanding of the EU before the referendum, but added: “I have learned a lot more about the EU since 2016 and have come to admire the project and its positive impact on the EU. citizens’ lives. “

A 35-year-old Irish citizen told researchers: “I identify the EU as my home country now, I identify myself as an EU citizen before I identify with any nationality.”

Despite the fact that the majority of respondents have established status or British citizenship, legal status and right of residence remain primary concerns for respondents to EU citizens, affecting their deliberations on future plans for staying in the UK.

Lead author Professor Nando Sigona of the University of Birmingham launched the report on the six-year anniversary of the Brexit agreement: “While the public narrative suggests that Brexit is finished and dusty, Brexit is still an open scar for EU citizens.

“Strong feelings of insecurity, unrest and sadness coexist with feelings of home and opportunity, with the latter prevailing in England, while more positive feelings are expressed by those living in Scotland and Wales.

“Rebuilding trust is challenging when the consequences of Brexit still have such profound consequences for the lives of EU citizens in the UK.”

The interrogation took place between December 2021 and January 2022, one year after the end of the transition period for Brexit.

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Javed Iqbal

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