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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Push, Pull and Brexit: Polish Migrants' Perceptions of Factors Discouraging them from Staying in the UK

Abstract

The fate of European citizens living in the United Kingdom was a key issue linked with Britain's departure from the European Union. Official statistics show that some outflow has taken place, but it was no Brexodus. This article investigates Brexit's impact within a theoretical (push-pull) framework using a survey of long-term Polish migrants in the UK (CAPI, N = 472, conducted in 2018). Our results show that the perception of Brexit as a factor discouraging migrants from staying in the UK was limited. Still, those with experience of living in other countries, those remitting to Poland, and those on welfare benefits, were more likely to find Brexit discouraging. However, many claimed that the referendum nudged them towards extending their stay instead of shortening it. In general, when asked about what encourages/discourages them from staying in the UK, the respondents mainly chose factors related to the job market. Therefore, we argue, in line with Kilkey and Ryan (2020), that the referendum was an unsettling event - but, considering the strong economic incentives for Polish migrants to stay in the UK, we can expect Brexit to have a limited influence on any further outflows of migrants, as long as Britain's economic situation does not deteriorate.

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Central and Eastern European Migration Review

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