The facts are coming in. And it seems a huge Brexit exit of British nationals are feeling the impact of this divisive and historic move as almost 75,000 thousand of them have moved, on average per year, in recent years.
More concerning, for the UK at least, is that this increase, which is a rise of 30% since the Brexit referendum, isn’t made up of the traditional groups of ex-pats, the slightly elderly or retirees.
It is made up of thousands of skilled workers. Skilled workers whose loss may make Britain go bust, and whose gain, where Spain tops the list, may make the recipient country go boom.
The Time Bomb of Brexit
The key driver of all this migration according to Daniel Auer, co-author of a migration study by the Oxford University in Berlin and the Berlin Social Science Centre, is Brexit.
“Brexit was by far the most dominant driver of migration decisions since 2016”, he said.
The reason why there has been such a mass exodus of British nationals to the EU is down to some stipulations in the Brexit withdrawal agreement signed into action on January 31.
According to a Guardian newspaper article ‘the key loss for British nationals is the freedom to move country within the EU or to work or offer services across a border’. A rule which does not apply to EU nationals in the UK because of their EU member state citizenship.
This has driven British nationals to take out citizenship in an EU country in their droves. According to Mr Auer’s study the increase has been by around 500%!
This rise in citizenship was, the study contends, “further evidence that an increasing number are making migration decisions to protect themselves from some of the most negative effects of Brexit on their lives”.
Sue Wilson, who founded a campaign to protect the rights of British migrants living in Spain and the EU called Bremain in Spain, agrees. She said she has seen evidence of Brits “expediting their plans”, career or otherwise, once the UK knew that Brexit was happening. Many agencies in the area are experiencing a boom in enquiries for properties for long term residence.
Under the withdrawal agreement British nationals can settle in another EU member state right up to December 31 and can claim lifetime rights as EU citizens.
“We have people inquiring what the rules are and we are saying to people that as long as they move before the December 31 they will have the same rights as those of us who are already here,” added MsWilson.
What happens after that is currently unknown.
Where Britain Loses, Spain Gains.
By taking out citizenship in their host country British nationals are then free to work or offer a service to any other EU member state. It’s not just fruit pickers we are talking about here. It is accountants, lawyers, medical practitioners, translators.
And where are the majority of these highly-skilled and trained people going? Spain.
Spain has always been a hot spot for British nationals and it is even more so now. Currently there are an estimated 380,000 British nationals living in Spain. That’s the same number as the population of Bristol.
According to the study by Mr Auer as little as 2,300 people per year on average have moved to Spain between 2008 and 2015.
Between 2016 and 2018, however, and after the Brexit referendum, this figure jumped a staggering fivefold with 21,250 registered migrants on average per year.
The draw of Spain, especially for Brits, is fairly obvious. We love the sun. We might not see it here much but we still love it. That, combined with the healthy food and healthy climate, has traditionally put Spain in our top spot of choice.
Brexit has only added to that. If you are thinking of joining the exodus and making the move to Spain along with almost half a million others don’t delay. Get your affairs in order and get property hunting.