Brexit is a highly topical supject and I have a question. Is immigration connected to Brexit? In what way?

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    Two people have already voted to close this question as "too broad" but did not explain why. Please note that mapohuanha is a new contributor and might not yet be familiar with the standards for questions on this website. If you consider this question too broad, please explain why it's too broad and how it could be improved to make it appropriate.
    – Philipp
    Feb 13, 2019 at 17:00
  • Please do your research before asking. Feb 13, 2019 at 21:44
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    The reason I voted to close as too broad is because it's unclear as to what is being asked. What do you mean by "connected to Brexit?" Are you aksing if that is the reason why people voted for it? Why it was originally proposed? Why or how it affects deals with the EU? How will immigration be affected by Brexit?
    – RWW
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:56
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    Searching for immigration and Brexit finds eight other results. E.g. What is the rationale behind aiming for reduced immigration through Brexit?
    – Brythan
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:58

3 Answers 3


Two main connections:

  • The ability of the UK to set an independent immigration policy was a major issue for the Leave campaign. They wanted to be able to deny entry to some EU27 citizens and to change the conditions of stay for others.
  • When Brexit comes, some of this will happen. Right now EU citizens have a right to take a job in the UK, after Brexit they will likely have to ask for permission which may or may not be granted.
    British immigrants in the EU27 will be affected in a similar way.
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    The UK does have an independent immigration policy even inside the EU. It has full control of more than 50% of its immigration but does nothing about it, because it actually needs immigrants and can't wreck the economy just to satisfy bigots.
    – user
    Feb 13, 2019 at 20:10
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    @user, There is simply no way to arrive at a measure of 50%. For what the UK can control, it does to extraordinary detail. If your interested, check out Expatriates exchange site on which some of us here are very active. Do a search on the 'United Kingdom' tag. The Travel exchange site also demonstrates this somewhat.
    – ouflak
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:28

Immigration is a subject that was used extensively to argue for brexit, although in reality it doesn't have all that much to do with the EU.

First the argument was made that levels of immigration to the UK are too high, with bogus claims being made about the effect on wages and the lack of housing being the main justifications. Eventually David Cameron, the Prime Minister who promised the brexit referendum, made an extremely unwise promise to reduce immigration levels from around 300,000 a year to "tens of thousands" a year. For reference, there are around 80,000 family reunions by immigration per year alone, before counting skilled workers, paying students and EU freedom of movement, so the goal was likely impossible to deliver and so far has not come close to being met.

It was argued that EU freedom of movement rules allowed many "undesirable" people to come to the UK, such as those from Poland and Roumania with few skills. There was also a completely false claim that Turkey was joining the EU imminently, which could result in 76 million Turks all moving to the UK for some inexplicable reason.

This kind of fear-mongering became a major factor in many people's attitudes towards the EU and brexit.

Of course, around 60% of immigration to the UK is from outside the EU, and not governed by freedom of movement. The UK government could stop it all tomorrow if it wanted to. Yet it does not, and there is no credible suggestion that it in fact might do so after brexit for some reason. In fact, many prominent brexit supporting politicians such as Penny Mordaunt (a cabinet minister) and Jacob Rees-Mogg have publicly stated that they expect immigration from outside the EU to become easier post-brexit.

In short, many voters had the mistaken belief that voting for brexit would reduce immigration, or was necessary to reduce immigration.

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    'although in reality it doesn't have all that much to do with the EU.'. Of course, around 60% of immigration to the UK is from outside the EU, and not governed by freedom of movement.
    – user19831
    Feb 13, 2019 at 21:19
  • Of course, around 60% of immigration to the UK is from outside the EU" : Which naturally means 40% of immigration to the UK comes from inside the EU & is governed by freedom of movement, so.. not exactly an inconsequential figure, but the point that the UK hasn't done much to address non-EU immigration is fair.
    – Pelinore
    Feb 21, 2019 at 9:10

The EU has tied immigration to trade, more specifically unrestrained immigration to free trade. This is an atypical arrangement both historically and in the present-day context and, as far as I'm aware, the EU is the only entity to ever make such a correlation and apply it (or attempt to apply it to some degree) to trade agreements. What this means for the UK and some of the wealthier countries of the EU is that they may face flows of immigration for which their infrastructure, social systems, and culture are not prepared for. This can be especiallly trying on a system if there are large amounts of immigration in a very short period of time such as what has occurred with the UK in the last decade. This is directly related to sentiments that led to Brexit. It has not only put pressure on countries such as the United Kingdom, it has put pressure on countries such Romania who have in the obverse suffered severe amounts of emmigration. Because of the insistence that unrestrained immigration be tied to free trade, there are many Brexit supporters who are quite happy to give up the benefits of free trade in exchange for complete control of their immigration system.

  • Free movement of people being tied to free movement of goods (and, really, that's often just saying free movement of people transporting goods)? I can't imagine why they'd connect the two.
    – Obie 2.0
    Feb 13, 2019 at 23:35
  • I think it is an attempt to model the member states of the EU around the concept of the United States having individual 'states'. But these are in reality fundamentally very different domains with completely different contexts. I'm not saying it's invalid. But trying to craft something together like that is going to present challenges. Tying together free movement of people to free trade is part of an attempt to do that. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won't, or won't quite work out like everybody originally envisioned, but it is without a doubt a significant factor in why Brexit has occurred.
    – ouflak
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:37
  • Obviously, it is difficult and perhaps even painful for people to accept that fact. And I have my own hopes that eventually the UK will find its way back into the EU. But if there is truly going to be something like what the U.S. has done being recreated in Europe, then, like the United States, it's going to take some time, pain, and immense effort to reach that point. Anybody dreaming that it would be a liberal dreamscape that would just all fall into place... well... maybe in the Star Trek universe... but not in this timelime we are all living in.
    – ouflak
    Feb 14, 2019 at 7:44
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    EU Regulations for Freedom of Movement; eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/… relevant quote from section (10) "Therefore, the right of residence for Union citizens and their family members for periods in excess of three months should be subject to conditions." This answer just repeats the lies of the Leave campaign. There is no right to "Unrestrained Migration" inherent in the EU's freedom of movement regulations.
    – Jontia
    Feb 14, 2019 at 9:43
  • @Jonita, Those 'conditions' are subject to all rulings of the EJC. As a result, no country can: 1) Refuse entry, except under exception criminal circumstances 2) Deport, except under exception criminal circumstances 3) Place any restritions on employment or access to public benefits. There are 3.7 million EU citizens living in the EU. No problem, I think this is positive. Just under 80% of those arrived in the last 10 years. That's a problem. This is not a lie. I am not exaggerrating for some irrational political reason. This is the reality that has been a major reason leading to Brexit.
    – ouflak
    Feb 14, 2019 at 9:56

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