By Lyndsey Hall
In 2017, the number of EU citizens to emigrate from the UK was the highest on record, according to the Office for National Statistics.
A total of 139,000 EU citizens left the UK last year, 5,000 more than the next highest year, which was in 2008. In addition, net long-term migration to the UK from the EU was the lowest in five years, at 101,000.
The data applies to the first full calendar year since the Brexit vote, in which 52% of Britons voted to leave the European Union.
Net migration refers to the difference between the number of people coming to live in the UK for at least 12 months and those leaving the country. This figure has risen for those coming from outside the EU to 227,000; the highest level since September 2011.
The government’s aim is to reduce overall net migration from both inside and outside the EU to the tens of thousands. Immigration minister, Caroline Noakes said: “What these statistics show is that more of the people who are coming to the UK are coming for reasons we would want – to take up a definite job or to study.
“More EU nationals continue to arrive than leave and as the ONS have made clear, net migration has been broadly stable since late 2017. But while it is not unusual to see quarterly ups and downs, we know more needs to be done if we are to bring net migration down to sustainable levels.”
With the number of EU nationals living in the UK at around 3.5 million, it stands to reason that departure levels would be higher now than in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. However, the number of people coming to the UK from EU countries has been steadily declining since June 2016, the month of the referendum, and emigration of EU nationals from the UK has been steadily increasing, highlighting the impact of the Brexit vote.
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