EU Migrants and the Brexit Referendum: Attitudes, Fears and Practices

Chris Moreh, Prof Derek McGhee, Dr Athina Vlachantoni

EU citizens living in the United Kingdom are arguably one of the groups most exposed to the consequences of the UK's renegotiation of its relationship with the European Union, and the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the lives of EU migrants in the UK may be affected in a multitude of ways, although not necessarily to the same degree. Migrants of certain nationalities may (and become) more vulnerable than others, and so may migrants living in different regions within the UK. The proposed paper explores, based on empirical data, the different attitudes, fears and practices of EU migrants in the context of the upcoming referendum. More specifically, the paper analyses whether the anti-EU discourse and the pressure of the referendum has influenced attitudes towards naturalisation, and associated practices.The data analysed in the paper will originate from an online survey conducted within an Economic and Social Research Council funded project (October 2015¬¬-April 2016) as part of the 'UK in a Changing Europe' initiative. The survey collects information on the respondents' views of the advantages and disadvantages of the naturalisation process, their thoughts on the option and possible consequences of obtaining dual nationality, their concerns about the UK's possible exit from the EU and its implications for their rights and obligations, and their thoughts on the possibility of remigration. Based on this data the paper will be able to identify the major vulnerabilities to which EU migrants in the UK are exposed, and emerging practices of resistance.

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