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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Brexit, Covid and Bulgarian migrants in the UK: stay or return?


Much has been written about Brexit and migration, but little from the perspective of Bulgarians in the UK. Through an online questionnaire followed by in-depth interviews, we study Bulgarians' 'stay' or 'leave' intentions in light of Brexit and then Covid-19. Combining cross-tabulation and regression analysis of survey data and narrative analysis of interview scripts, we show how migrants' plans are dependent on their position in the labour market and document the experiences of those who have returned. We find that stayers are more likely to be highly skilled and longer-resident in the UK. Most returns are only partially related to Brexit and are often finalized following the impact of Covid-19; family considerations are the main trigger to return. Many returnees are dissatisfied with life in Bulgaria. The article demonstrates that EU migrants' mobility decisions post-Brexit need to be examined in relation to other contingent factors operating at various scales.

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Eugenia Markova (United Kingdom)
Russell King (United Kingdom)

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