Is Europe’s Migration Crisis the Reason for Brexit?

The European Migration Crisis has been an overwhelming process for the EU, shaking its political stability and leading to the most shocking political decision of all: The Brexit.

Although Britain’s exit from the EU following the referendum had many contributing factors, the major factor that led the Britons to opt for a leave vote was the European Migration Crisis.

Britain’s exit from EU received a pang of both relief and shock across the globe. With a slight majority of Britons breathing a sigh of relief at its exit, countries like India woke up in a state of shock followed by a crash in the stock market (a dip of 1000 points in BSE Sensex). The British pound started falling and the Britons were forded to take heed of the kinds of warning they received from leaders like Donald Tusk and Barack Obama against opting out of the EU.

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What is the European Migration Crisis?

In 2015, a rising number of refugees made their way to the EU to seek asylum. People from war torn countries have been scrambling to make their way to the EU, with the top three nationalities to make their way through Mediterranean Sea are Syrians (46.7%), Afghans (20.9%), and Iraqis (9.4%).

Brexit paved way for many interesting discussions.

Brexit paved way for many interesting discussions.

According to Eurostat, the EU received over 1.2 million first time asylum applications in the year 2015, which was double the number of applications received the previous year.

With this striking number of new arrivals, even the best prepared European countries have reached breaking point, where they are not able to keep up and meet the EU’s standards of receiving and processing all these applications.

So, is Europe’s Migration Crisis the only reason behind Brexit?

No, but it is the most prominent. The migration crisis in Europe left open the question of who is responsible for those arriving, and has reignited deep internal divisions between member states. Of the people who migrated to the UK, the number of EU citizens was higher than non EU citizens. The British people have also expressed concerns about their own security in their own country. A UK citizen, who has advocated in favor of Brexit, said “We’re letting in rapists. We’re letting in shit, I have four children. How are they supposed to get jobs?”

Unemployment is one of the main reasons that has also been cited by Britons opposed to the EU, even before the crisis began.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary and Leave campaigner Iain Duncan Smith has said “high levels of EU migration mean British workers are ‘forced to compete’ with millions from abroad for employment.”

To quantify the situation, Britain has seen an upsurge in the count of number of EU workers in the past three years, from 1.4m to 2.1m, and the percentage of EU nationals in the workforce has increased to 6.8 percent, up from 2.6 percent in a decade.

Immigration to UK took off between the years 2004 to 2014, which saw a spike in the percentage of migrants entering the UK from Europe. The percentage went from a little over 25 percent to little under 50 percent, implying Europe’s major contribution to UK’s immigrant population.

The reason behind this surge is that the EU started incorporating a lot of post-communist countries in central and Eastern Europe, when it began expanding in 2004. These countries are poor, which means when they accede to the EU, their citizens were more likely to find employment opportunities in richer countries like the UK.

This accession of post-communist countries was the major reason behind European migration to Britain in the past decade.

In addition to this the 2008 financial collapse and Eurozone crisis, impoverished wealthier countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy. The percentage of unemployment rose in these countries and forced their citizens to look for jobs in other countries. The British labor market was comparatively easier to break into and since a lot of people from Europe already speak English, so it became a natural target for southern European citizens.

This inundation of southern European citizens in Britain along with the accession countries led to number of EU citizens living in UK reach a number of surpassing 3 million by 2015.

Britons are not entirely tolerant when it comes to receiving  immigrants, which led to a small majority of them supporting the leave campaign.

While EU migration crisis might not be the only reason behind Brexit, but it definitely is a defining factor. As more and more Britons come to hold xenophobic attitudes, the huge movement taking place over the past 20 years has led to increased hostility between Britons and immigrants, making the feeling politically more potent.

And now Leave has won, proving that xenophobia is a powerful force, which can decide the fate of a country’s entire future.

The British people are in the driver’s seat now, but where will they go?

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