The United Kingdom has granted settled status to 4.3 million European Union citizens, more than the population of some of the bloc’s member states, indicating that Brexit has not led to a vast exodus of EU nationals, a senior minister said on Monday.
After the 2016 Brexit vote, some employers and universities warned that the United Kingdom would haemorrhage talent and that EU citizens would return home.
EU, EEA (European Economic Area) and Swiss citizens and their families can apply for settled status to continue living in the United Kingdom after June 30 2021 if they started living in the country before Dec. 31, 2020.
“There have been 4.9 million applications and 4.3 million grants of status, so there are more EU citizens in the UK than in some member states – which is great,” Minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove told a parliamentary committee.
“It is a great advertisement for this country,” Gove. “People have chosen to stay in unprecedented numbers.”
“It gives a lie to some of the nonsense that was propagated at the time of the Brexit vote that somehow the UK was less welcoming or that EU citizens would leave, or that there would be harm to our universities or to our healthcare sector,” Gove said.
The UK has more EU citizens than some member states such as Slovenia, Malta, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Latvia, Cyprus, Croatia and Estonia, according to EU population figures.
British official figures show that EU citizens continue to move to the United Kingdom and that there is still net EU migration. (Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton and William James)