Finally a Brexit Breakthrough – but is it Good News?

Theresa May has struck a last minute deal with the EU in order to move Brexit talks onto the next phase.

Included in the deal are assurances that there will be no ‘hard border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe will have their rights protected. This is all tied to a divorce bill that may cost the UK up to £39 billion, according to Downing Street.

After months of uncertainty and a seemingly insurmountable deadlock, this is welcome news to basically everyone in Europe, not least EU nationals working in the UK, who will see their rights, “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts.”

However, it’s not all roses.

The post-referendum fall in EU migration has hit British employers hard, and is being felt considerably this Christmas period. The latest stats from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) explore the first full-year data set since Brexit began, showing a fall in net migration with both less EU citizens coming to the UK and many choosing to leave the country.

  • Net long-term international migration is estimated to be +230,000, down 106,000 on the figures from 2016.
  • Immigration from June 2016 to June 2017 was at 572,000, down 80,000 on the previous period.
  • Over 75% of the decrease in net migration is accounted for by EU citizens.
  • The amount of EU citizens coming to the UK ‘looking for work’ is down by 47,000.

Whilst there’s some solace to take in the fact that those immigrating to the UK from the EU with a ‘definite job’ in place remained stable at 187,000, the extent to which Brexit has affected the UK workforce is clear to see.

This is the highest level of EU emigration since the recession in 2008 and the biggest fall in net migration to the country since records began. A concern that should not only be affecting employers, but the government.

The UK is Still the Most Desireable Place to Work

Converse to these stats, a separate study conducted by Deloitte has found that the UK is still the most popular country amongst foreigners looking for work abroad. For respondents based outside the UK, the UK ranked as the most desirable place to work with 57% placing it in their top three destinations, ahead of the US (30%), Australia (21%) and Canada (19%).

Speaking to the Recruiter, Tony Goodwin, chairman and CEO at Antal International, said: “It’s good news from the point of view of progress and reducing the uncertainty surrounding a hard Brexit, which is causing people to hold back on decision making and making people concerned about jobs and so on.

“People come to the UK not just because their ability and the ease with which the EU has allowed them to come to the UK. They like coming to our country. They come because we treat them well – that fundamentally isn’t going to change and wouldn’t have changed even if they hadn’t got reciprocal arrangements sorted out.”

However, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the union TUC was rather more forthright in her tweet:

We need a deal with the EU that defends jobs, rights & public services. Trade deals like CETA aren’t the answer. It’s time politicians put the interests of working people first. #Brexit

So whilst this is the first positive to take since Brexit negotiations began the question remains; is the damage already done?

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