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'Brexodus' of Eastern Europeans Hidden Behind Official UK Migration Figures

© AP Photo / Matt DunhamA man as he cycles past a Polish Specialties shop in London.
A man as he cycles past a Polish Specialties shop in London. - Sputnik International
Government data shows more Europeans than ever working in the UK, but Deputy Director of Oxford University's Migration Observatory told Sputnik the number of nationals in Britain from Easter Europe is in decline.

Britain could be experiencing negative-net migration among Eastern Europeans despite figures published November 15 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recording the highest number of EU citizens working in the UK on record.

Mr. Robert McNeil of Migration Observatory at the Oxford University told Sputnik a closer look at the figures shows a decline in net-migration from the EU8 countries that could be attributed to the Brexit result.

The countries of the EU8 comprise Poland, Latvia, Lithuania Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia and Slovenia and have accounted for a significant proportion of EU migration to the UK since their accession to the bloc.

"There has been a very significant reduction in migration from the EU8 countries, it has fallen from around 40,000 a year to around 7,000 a year. The margin of error is actually about 14,000 so you may actually be seeing negative net-migration," Mr. McNeil told Sputnik.

Construction worker - Sputnik International
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Mr. McNeil suggested a number of factors to be influencing the decline including the fall in the value of the pound since the referendum and the continuing uncertainty of people's legal status after March 2019.

In its findings, the ONS showed the number of European Union citizens actively working in Britain has continued an increasing trend over the past several years, reaching around 2.38 million as of September 2017, the highest number since records began two decades ago. The figure is an increase of 112,000 from the same period in 2016.

"The number of non-UK nationals in work is still rising albeit more slowly than in the last couple of years. However this is being driven by EU citizens working in the UK, the number of non-EU nationals working in the UK has fallen in the last year," Matt Hughes senior statistician at the ONS told Sputnik. 

The information comes amid widespread fears in the aftermath of the June 2016 referendum result that Brexit would lead to an exodus of European citizens due to uncertainty over their immigration status once the UK leaves the European Union.

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