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Immigration Might Actually Increase After Brexit Vote

Photo: Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images.
You couldn't listen to coverage of last month’s EU referendum without hearing the word "immigration"; The Leave campaign adopted it as one of its key arguments and their slogan, “take back control”, was routinely applied to the UK’s borders.

So anyone who voted Leave could be forgiven for thinking the number of immigrants coming to the country would fall.

However, a new report by MPs says we could actually see a surge of immigration from the EU immediately before Britain leaves and possible restrictions on free movement are put in place, the BBC reported.

The report by the Home Affairs Select Committee said: "Past experience has shown that previous attempts to tighten immigration rules have led to a spike in immigration prior to the rules coming into force.”

The MPs urged the government to prepare for a surge by fully resourcing the country’s immigration agencies so they can handle the “heavy extra demands” placed on them, the Guardian reported.

The most obvious cut-off date for new immigration rules to come into play would be the date that article 50 – the formal mechanism to leave the EU – is triggered, the report also said.

Crucially, the government must also offer EU citizens currently in the UK some confirmation of their status, said the MPs – will they be sent home or allowed to stay?

The government has said it can’t guarantee that EU citizens will be able to stay without a mutual agreement from other EU countries about British citizens living in the EU.

However, the report said EU nationals living in the UK are "in a potentially very difficult and uncertain position" because of the Leave vote, and that “they should not be used as bargaining chips in the negotiations”, reported the BBC.

Many EU migrants in the UK feel unwelcome after the Leave vote, with many experiencing racism and hate crimes and weighing up whether they would even want to live in a post-Brexit Britain anyway.

“Brexit has made me rethink my own future in London," Vicky Angelina Stoelzel, 21, a German migrant in the UK, told Refinery29 last month. "We still don’t know what the outcome of leaving the EU will be and that is what scares my friends and me."