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Sharp rise in EU citizen departures after Brexit vote

PHOTO:AFP

The number of EU nationals leaving Britain rose sharply to 122,000 people in the 12 months to the end of March in the biggest increase in a decade, after the country voted to leave the European Union.

The figure was 33,000 higher than the previous year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said Thursday.

Britain voted to leave the European Union in a June 2016 referendum after a campaign in which reducing immigration from the EU was a key issue.

There was a particularly sharp rise, of 17,000 people, in departures of citizens from eight of the countries which joined the European Union in 2004 — Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The increase was lower — 8,000 — for citizens of Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007.

There was also a 19,000 decrease in immigration from the EU to 248,000 people over the same period.

The results “indicate that the EU referendum result may be influencing people’s decision to migrate into and out of the UK,” said Nicola White, head of international migration statistics at the ONS.

Jonathan Portes, a professor at King’s College, London, said latest statistics “at least in part” reflected the impact of the Brexit vote.

Britain and the European Union are in negotiations over the future status of the estimated 3.2 million European nationals living in Britain and around a million British citizens living in the EU.

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