Thousands of Eastern Europeans leave UK as immigration plunges ahead of Brexit
More migrants from eight eastern European countries are now leaving the UK than arriving, official figures revealed today.
It’s the first time there has been a net departure from the so-called EU8 states, including Poland and Czech Republic, since they joined the EU in 2004.
The stark fact – prompting warnings of a "Brexodus"- comes after ‘net long-term migration’ to Britain dropped sharply since the Brexit vote in 2016.
The measure records the difference between the number of people arriving and leaving the UK for at least 12 months.
Around 45,000 immigrants arrived from EU8 countries – Poland, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia and Latvia – in the year to the end of March.
At the same time, 47,000 departed – giving a net migration figure of minus 2,000.
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While this was a "non-statistically significant" fall, net EU8 migration has dropped from 42,000 since June 2016.
Net migration of citizens from 14 longer-term member states such as Germany, Italy, Spain and France has almost halved since the Brexit vote.
And in the latest period, 38,000 more Romanians and Bulgarians arrived than left, down from 62,000 in the 12 months to June 2016.
From across the whole of the EU, net migration to Britain has fallen to around 87,000, the lowest level for more than five years.
Meanwhile net migration from outside the EU to Britain is higher than at any point since 2004.
Overall, the balance between immigration and emigration was 271,000.
This is below record levels seen around 2015 and 2016, but still almost three times the Government’s net migration target of less than 100,000.
Nicola Rogers, of the Office for National Statistics, said the figures show net migration is continuing to add to the UK’s population.
"Looking at the underlying numbers we can see that EU net migration has fallen, as fewer EU citizens are arriving in the UK, and has now returned to the level last seen in 2012," she said.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: "The UK has clearly become a less attractive country for EU migrants since the referendum.
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"The lower value of the pound means that workers coming here for higher wages are getting less than they were in the past.
"And economic conditions in many of the key EU countries of origin have improved a lot over the past few years.
"Uncertainty about the implications of Brexit may have played a role."
Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, of anti-Brexit group Best For Britain, claimed: "These figures show that a Brexodus is under way as people are packing their bags and leaving the UK.
"This should worry everyone as Theresa May’s agenda to make Britain an inhospitable environment has come true due to Brexit."
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