Brexit has left “permanent scars” on EU citizens living in the UK, research shows

Six years after the EU vote, Brexit has left “permanent scars” on European citizens living in the UK, according to a new study.

Two-thirds of EU and EEA nationals living in the UK who took part in the study said Brexit had “significantly – and mostly negatively – affected their feelings for the UK”, said researchers from the University of Birmingham and Lancaster University.

And many of the 364 respondents said Brexit had made them reconsider their future in Britain and undermined their confidence in British institutions and politicians.

In comments that the researchers said reflected the experience of several participants, a 64-year-old French-born naturalized British female respondent said: “I will forever remember that Thursday in 2016 when I woke up and saw the result.

“I was crying. I was going to work. I felt betrayed, unheard of, careless, left to wonder about my life in the UK and what had been meant.”

Respondents expressed a strong sense of attachment to the EU triggered by the referendum and the subsequent Brexit negotiations.

A 55-year-old woman with dual citizenship said she only had a “vague” understanding of the EU before the referendum, but added: “I have learned a lot more about the EU since 2016 and have come to admire the project and its positive impact on the EU. citizens’ lives. “

A 35-year-old Irish citizen told researchers: “I identify the EU as my home country now, I identify myself as an EU citizen before I identify with any nationality.”

Despite the fact that the majority of respondents have established status or British citizenship, legal status and right of residence remain primary concerns for respondents to EU citizens, affecting their deliberations on future plans for staying in the UK.

At the launch of the six-year report on the Brexit agreement, lead author Professor Nando Sigona of the University of Birmingham said: “While the public narrative suggests that Brexit is finished and dusty, Brexit is still an open scar for EU citizens.

“Strong feelings of insecurity, unrest and sadness coexist with feelings of home and opportunity, with the latter prevailing in England, while more positive emotions are expressed by those living in Scotland and Wales.

“It is a challenge to rebuild confidence when the consequences of Brexit still have such profound consequences for the lives of EU citizens in Britain.”

The interrogation took place between December 2021 and January 2022, one year after the end of the Brexit transition period.

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