Last year more than 200,000 European Union (EU) citizens left Britain fearing Brexit and the deepest economic depression in three centuries.
There were 3.5 million EU citizens living in the country compared to 3.7 million in 2019, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released last week showed. There was little change in the number of non-EU citizens, 2.6 million.
The loss helps explain why Britain is facing labor shortages that are emptying store shelves, raising prices and threatening a recovery from a pandemic recession. Sectors such as retail and hospitality are heavily dependent on EU workers, and it is unclear how many of those leaving the country will return.
The pandemic has affected Britain more than most countries, and migrants can find lucrative opportunities in their home country. Meanwhile, leaving the UK from the EU has made it difficult for foreign nationals to return to the UK, and those who do not have established status now need a visa to work, live or study.
However, the ONS said the truck driver shortage was not necessarily due to EU citizens returning home. Brexit. While the number of EU citizens working as truck drivers declined by more than a third between mid-2020 and March this year, many could have switched to different careers, he said. .
The pandemic complicated the task of tracking migration flows after face-to-face interviews at ports were suspended due to social distancing requirements. Instead, officials have had to rely on remotely conducted surveys.
The ONS said statistical models show 100,000 people emigrated from the UK between March and June last year, when the first lockdowns were imposed, a significant increase over the same period in 2018 and 2019. More than three-quarters of them were EU citizens. At the same time, restrictions on international travel meant that far less than usual it was made in the UK.
London remained the area with the highest proportion of non-UK born residents. Foreigners account for 9% of the total population, and citizens of Poland, Romania, Ireland, India and Italy are ranked in the top five.
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