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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Scapegoats and Guinea Pigs: Free Movement as a Pathway to Confined Labour Market Citizenship for European Union Accession Migrants in the UK


Migrants in the UK from the Central and Eastern European states that acceded to the European Union in 2004 and 2007 often have close proximity to precarity. This contribution illustrates that the positioning of the migrants in the casualised labour market has not occurred by accident but has been brought about by the (disingenuous) way in which nationals of the accession states were permitted access to the UK labour market. The positioning has been further maintained through the increasingly restrictive direction of the intertwined EU-UK response to claims for support from vulnerable EU migrant citizens. This piece presents the idea of 'confined labour market citizenship' as a way to understand the way many migrants have experienced working and living in the UK in the years following EU enlargement. This concept, it is argued, is able to capture: the role of the UK state as it regulated post-accession migration rules and implemented laws relating to social security entitlement; the influence of the broader EU framework on free movement and citizenship of the Union; and the impact of employers 'on the ground' in creating and exacerbating conditions of precarity and exploitation. The analysis throughout the paper exposes how EU8 and EU2 migrants have served as scapegoats for the result of the Brexit referendum, deflecting attention from the instrumentalisation of the migration issue by politicians. They have also been guinea pigs, testing out a confined version of EU citizenship with less tolerance for those in precarious and insecure work.

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Samantha Currie (United Kingdom)

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