If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, you’ll know that Brexit is the hottest topic in the British press.
The EU Referendum on 23rd June will ask British voters if they want to stay in, or opt out of the EU, and feelings have been running high on both sides of the debate. The question on everybody’s lips though, is what will Brexit mean for EU Nationals?
Let’s set the scene: you’re a Czech citizen and you’ve been living in London for six years now. Not only have you worked your way up from the bottom (those coffee shop days seem a long time ago now!) to become a kick-ass fashion exec at an internationally renowned label, but you play hard too, drinking and dancing in London’s hottest clubs and bars at the weekend. You and your French fiancé have made this city your home and are proud to call yourselves Londoners, and because of the Free Movement agreement between EU member states, you thought you’d be able to live and work here for as long as you wanted.
But now you’re worried what will happen if the Brits vote for Brexit. Will your dream life go up in smoke? Will you be asked to leave and have to relocate to one of your company’s offices in mainland Europe? Paris or Milan, perhaps? While no one knows exactly what will happen if the UK pulls out of the EU, one thing is for sure; you won’t be asked to leave the next day, or probably any day after that. With nearly 2 million EU workers currently living in the UK, there is no way the British economy can afford to lose them. London especially, which is way ahead of the game compared to other UK cities, is one of the richest and most cosmopolitan capitals in the world and continues to thrive because of the hard work of young people from all corners of the globe.
So even if the Brits vote for Brexit, there’s a good chance they’ll negotiate to keep the Free Movement deal in place. Currently, this deal means that EU Nationals can move freely between EU Member countries and stay and work for as long as they wish, as well as claiming benefits if they need to. A special deal also exists between the EU, and the non-EU countries of Switzerland and Norway, which means they also accept EU workers in return for sweet trade deals. So if Brexit happens, it is likely that the UK will take a similar path, as expelling all EU workers would be disastrous for the economy. Not only that, but there are currently around 2.2 million UK nationals living and working in other EU countries, and they certainly won’t want to lose out either!
So while you might be feeling a bit nervous right now, or considering proposing marriage to the first English guy you can get your hands on, in the short term there is really no need to worry. Even if Brexit goes ahead, negotiations are likely to take a long time, meaning you can continue to sit on the sidelines of London Fashion Week and dance into the night with your fiancé! While the uncertainty is obviously a concern for a lot of London’s hardest workers, it is important to remember that London is one of the coolest capitals in the world precisely because people from all around the world live here. It’s people like you that make London one of the hottest places to be, and the capitals biggest businesses and investors certainly won’t want to risk losing that cool vibe.
So while there are lots of cute English guys out there, there’s no need to leave your French fiancé in order to secure a visa! If you’ve got a good job, you’ll most likely be eligible for a Tier 2 General or Intra-Company Transfer Visa, which lasts for five years and can lead to you being granted “indefinite leave to remain” straight after. Many UK businesses rely on the specific skills and experience of EU workers like you, and in the result of Brexit, they’ll be fighting your corner too. In fact, many business owners are worried that the UK economy will stagnate if it leaves the EU, so big businesses will at the very least be keen to keep trade agreements in place, which is likely to include Free Movement too.
Whatever the outcome though, London will always need hip, young fashionistas like you to keep its economy on track and its nightclubs packed. And in the end, whether London sinks or swims is likely to be up to young people just like you, so if the UK is wise, it’ll want to keep your around!
What are your thoughts on the Brexit? Join in the conversation and let us know.
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