How do Europeans feel about Brexit?

Written by
John Salt

04 Jul 2016

04 Jul 2016 • by John Salt

The weeks leading up to the EU referendum were defined by uncertainty. ‘Brexit or Bremain’ posed a stark choice to the public, but in many ways the result has brought more questions than it has answers - along with uncertainty for those whose futures will be most affected.

Brexit causes uncertainty

In May, totaljobs published findings from their in-depth survey on the impact of Brexit for Europeans working in the UK. The survey asked 1,000 Europeans* for their views and the response was unambiguous. A massive 87% of Europeans said they were concerned about Brexit. But more than simply ‘concerned’, 33% of EU nationals said they would feel discriminated against if looking for a job, with 40% saying the referendum had negatively affected their opinion of the UK even before we knew the vote’s outcome.

Misgivings notwithstanding, 76% of Europeans working in the UK said they hoped to stay even if Brexit came to pass. Over half said ‘work’ was the primary motivating factor in moving to the UK and 65% said they were ‘satisfied or very satisfied’ with their job here.  

Within the figures are the personal stories of thousands of Europeans who will experience Brexit differently. I’ve heard the views of many Europeans working in the UK’s job market. Prior to the vote, Alba Jimenez, a Spanish marketer and blogger, told totaljobs: “If Brexit did happen, I would want to stay. After almost 5 years I’m pretty settled down here and I don’t feel it is my time to leave. However, if I had to become a British citizen as the only way to keep living here I would reconsider. Most of the Spaniards that have been in touch with me and my partner because of our blog share the same feeling of uncertainty. Neither politicians nor those supporting the “Leave” campaign have really said much about it…”

Will anything change?

Others, like George, a Greek manager at a prominent consulting firm, are both deeply concerned about Brexit and have their hearts set on staying. Despite the UK’s current state of flux, George told totaljobs: “I don’t believe that London will change significantly. A city like London will never stop attracting brilliant individuals from all corners of the world, whether a visa is required or not.

“In any case I would not go back to Greece. I have wanted to live abroad from a very young age; returning is not an option. If ever I leave London, I would probably try a different country like Switzerland or Denmark.”

Until the logistical implications of the result become clearer, ‘uncertainty’ is likely to remain the predominant feeling among Europeans living and working in the UK. Until that day comes, unanswered questions over peoples’ ‘right to remain’ and eligibility to work will continue to dominate.”

(’Europeans’ refers to non-British citizens of the European Union living in the UK. )