Thousands of Europeans in Brighton and Hove still unsettled after Brexit vote

Posted On 01 Dec 2016 at 3:36 pm

By Monica Mosquera

Thousands of people from the European Union who live, work and study in Brighton and Hove have been left feeling anxious and uncertain since the Brexit referendum in June.

What will happen to EU immigrants after Brexit? It is estimated that in the past 10 years there has been an influx of 1.25 million workers from EU countries into the UK.

Nearly a million European immigrants work in jobs that are classed as NQF Level 5 or below, according to the Office for National Statistics. These are jobs that do not require an honours degree.

The figures do not necessarily reflect the true level of skills that people coming from other EU countries have to offer as many of them are even more highly qualified.

They may have been to university and have a bachelors degree, a masters or a doctorate. So, don’t be surprised if the person serving you a coffee this morning is a qualified doctor or teacher.

migration-statistics-for-the-year-to-march-2016
After the Brexit referendum result, there has been talk of significantly reducing the number of immigrants entering the country.

This applies particularly to those who do not qualify for a tier 2 work permit, which is the permit for someone with a skilled job.

The solution is not an easy one. Some argue that the number of immigrants in the UK has being increasing at a rate that it could become unsustainable. But what will happen to the service sector if European migrants leave the country?

Jobs like housekeeping and cleaning are mainly carried out by migrants and there is always demand for workers in this sector.

Furthermore, according to the migration statistics for the year to March 2016, the number of immigrants from non-EU countries is higher than the number of EU immigrants.

We are glad that in Brighton the result of the Brexit referendum was for Britain to remain in the European Union as immigrants have always felt welcome in this lovely city.

However, a different atmosphere was sensed by many EU nationals after the Brexit results in other cities across the country.

citizenship-ceremonies-chart
People are now living with uncertainty about what will happen and are anxious about decisions that will be taken in the near future.

Is becoming a British citizen the solution? One of the options that some EU migrants are considering is to naturalise as a British citizen.

To become a UK citizen you need to have lived in the UK for at least five years, prove a good level of written and spoken English and take the Life in the UK Test.

The Life in the UK Test – or the citizenship test – is a multiple choice exam comprised of 24 questions assessing applicants’ knowledge of British life, traditions, history and customs.

Have a go at a sample test here.

The number of people becoming British citizens in the south east of England has nearly halved in the last few years.

But this trend is likely to change after the referendum result as more EU citizens will be applying for the UK citizenship even as many others are considering leaving the country.

Monica Mosquera is a web consultant from Spain. She has lived in Brighton and Hove for more than 10 years, having first moved here in 2001.

  1. Paul Chandler Reply

    People talk about immigration being ‘unsustainable’. Don’t they know that ‘unsustainable means unsustainable’ in other words if the demand for immigrants goes down then so will the number. At the moment we are not reproducing fast enough and getting an increasingly elderly population. We need lots of immigrants. Should, for some strange reason that position change then the number of immigrants will reduce.

    It is interesting that Brighton and Hove – a city with a very high immigrant population – voted to Remain in the EU by a large majority. Many of the Leave parts of the country have very few EU immigrants.

  2. Angela Gomez Reply

    I think the point of the article is exactly that, it should not be considered unsustainable. But not everybody agrees with that, hence the results of the Brexit referendum. Also, immigrants contribute to the workforce of the UK and it is true that Brighton is one of the most welcoming cities for migrants in the UK.

  3. Gitte de Sainte Marie Reply

    I have tried several of those tests to become a UK citizen … I’m Danish. I have been living two years in Germany and almost 30 years in France. Perhaps some day, I would want to become a UK citizen. I love your country and my oldest son who is 20 is studying at Bimm Brighton for the moment.
    I have to say that those tests are not fair at all… The most I got was about 62 % and why ? Because I don’t now the name of someone who got the goldmedal at the Olympics and because I was just ONE year wrong for something. Also to know a typical Welsh dish and the ingredients of it …
    I know that Queen Elisabeth is married to Prince Philip, I know that Elisabeth the first was the youngest daughter of Henry 8, I know that Cardiff is in Wales and I know much more, but I’m still not good enough to become a UK citizen, if I should desire so … Well, I suppose that someone who have been living in the UK should know better than me, but still, I find those tests a bit rough and I even suppose that most British born would not be able to pass them ….

  4. Gitte de Sainte Marie Reply

    Sorry for some spelling mistakes – it’s a shame that there is apparently no way to correct them …

  5. Clarissa Reply

    To be very clear, it is nearly impossible to pass the Life in the UK test without studying for it (most Brits wouldn’t either). Think of it like the driving test – you have to study the book and do the mock questions and you’ll be fine.

    I’ve thought of taking the citizenship test several times in the 15 years I’ve lived here. Post-Brexit tho I’ve lost all enthusiasm. I’ll be moving back to the mainland regardless of immigrant status. You don’t want me here, fine, I’ll bugger off and pay my taxes elsewhere! (I know not everyone can be that flexible. I do feel lucky.)

  6. Gitte de Sainte Marie Reply

    Thanks Clarissa ! I have been having a lot of fun the last couple of days with those tests :-). A lot of the questions are absolutely ridicilous and in my opinion have no importance for integrating a country. I do understand that you have to know something about history and geography. What I’m a bit puzzled with is culture. Particularly culture from the beginning of the 60ties until now. No questions what so ever about music and movie directors from that period … I do understand that there are some questions about Shakespeare and Jane Austen. As I’m Danish, I got the two questions about towns with names of viking origin, but a guy from India – would he had known ? I don’t think so and on the other hand, why would I have to know about Indian celebrations ? It seems completely stupid to me. Also, is it important to know how many members they have in different councils in Wales, Scotland etc. ? Is it important to know, that you can watch TV without paying licence if you are 75 ? Do you really have to know, where all the famous castles are ? The most important things in my opinion : the laws ! A bit of geography and a bit of history without going too far ! Culture ! And British culture isn’t only Shakespeare and Jane Austen ! British culture is SO rich and that is the main reason that I love your country, but why do you forget to ask questions about the culture from about 50-60 until now ? Until now, I haven’t seen a single question about the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Laurence Olivier, Monthy Python and a bunch of others … I haven’t even seen Beatrix Potter or HARRY Potter …. One question which is really not fair is when did Henry 8 die ? Same year, but January or February. Is that really important to become a UK citizen ? I forgot to say, that a couple of times, I DID pass the test 🙂 Even though, that I have never lived in the UK.

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