More than 200,000 EU citizens left the UK last year, fearful of Brexit and the deepest economic recession in three centuries.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last week showed that there are 3.5 million EU citizens living in the country compared to 3.7 million in 2019. The number of non-EU citizens has changed little, coming to 2.6 million.
The loss helps explain why Britain is suffering from a labor shortage causing store shelves to empty, driving up prices and threatening recovery from the pandemic recession. Sectors such as retail and hospitality rely heavily on EU workers, and it is unclear how many of those who have left the country will return.
The pandemic has hit the UK more than most countries, and migrants may have found attractive opportunities back home. Meanwhile, Brexit has made it difficult for foreign nationals to return to the UK, and those without established status now need a visa to work, live or study.
However, the Office for National Statistics said the shortage of truck drivers was not necessarily due to EU citizens returning home yet. Britain’s exit from the European Union. He said that while the number of EU citizens working as truck drivers fell by more than a third between mid-2020 and March of this year, many could have switched to different jobs.
The pandemic has complicated the task of tracking migration flows after face-to-face interviews were suspended at ports due to social distancing requirements. Instead, officials had to rely on surveys conducted remotely.
The statistical model indicates that 100,000 people immigrated from the UK between March and June last year when the first lockdown was imposed, a significant increase compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019, the Office for National Statistics said. More than three-quarters of them were EU citizens. At the same time, restrictions on international travel have meant that far fewer than usual are arriving in the UK.
London remained the area with the highest proportion of the unborn population in the United Kingdom. Foreigners made up 9% of the total population, with Poland, Romania, Ireland, India and Italy in the top five.
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