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    The Brexit effect

    Researchers Maria Evandrou, Jane Falkingham, Athina Vlachantoni and Zhixin Frank Feng have been exploring partnerships between individuals of different nationality in the UK against the background of an impending Brexit. The study, which uses data from the UK Census and Understanding Society, is also examining the association between the type of partnership and the preferences of respondents on whether the UK should remain in, or leave the European Union.

    Relationships between individuals of different nationality, or ‘bi-national partnerships’ have been increasing as a result of intra-European migration, as well as migration into Europe by people born elsewhere. Bi-national partnerships have frequently been used as an indicator of social integration, particularly when they result in bi-national children.

    The results of the study show that around three percent of all people aged 18 and over that were in a relationship in the UK were in partnerships where one partner was UK-born, and the other was born in another EU country; this equates to around 2 million people.

    Commenting on the findings, Professor Falkingham says: “There are a large number of individuals in the UK that could be affected by any changes to migration rules caused by the UK leaving the EU. Our study found that individuals in bi-national partnerships were more likely to support the UK remaining in the EU. As you might expect, those in UK-EU partnerships which also included children, were even more likely to support the UK remaining in the EU. However, approximately one-quarter of people in an UK-EU partnership supported the UK leaving the EU, highlighting the complexity of the Brexit debate, and what this might mean for bi-national partnerships and families in the UK.”

    In another study, researchers Chris Moreh, Derek McGhee and Athina Vlachantoni have been examining the effect of Brexit on EU immigrants’ attitudes to British Citizenship. Traditionally, individuals that have migrated within the EU have faced few pressures or incentives to formalise their ‘permanent’ residence or to legally get citizenship or nationality (naturalise) in their EU host countries. Focusing on the UK, the research team have been looking at the changes in practices and attitudes to such ‘legal integration’ as a result of the EU Referendum.

    Combining an analysis of the latest available data on naturalisation trends and data from an online survey done in the months leading up to the EU Referendum, the team have been able to assess whether Brexit is the sole motivating factor behind a renewed interest in British citizenship, or whether other factors also play a significant role. The results have revealed that, as well as the ‘Brexit effect’ driving interest, the reasons for choosing naturalisation continue to be similar to those pre-Brexit.

    Dr Moreh says: “Our analysis makes a significant contribution to understanding the complexities of legal integration processes in times of radical structural change. In particular, the study has found that factors related to more intrinsic attitudes have been driving naturalisation trends. These include: an individuals’ initial reasons for migration; more attention being given to legal integration options as a result of the Brexit debate leading to a higher awareness of such options; and, potentially, Euroscepticism. These results allow for initial conclusions to be drawn about the possible political demographic consequences of Brexit.”

    Further reading:

    Should I stay or should I go? Strategies of EU citizens living in the UK in the context of the EU referendum (CPC Briefing Paper 35)

    Understanding the drivers and consequence of population changes in the UK in the context of a changing Europe (CPC research project)

    Stakeholder identities in Britain’s neoliberal ethical community: Polish narratives of earned citizenship in the context of the UK’s EU referendum (The British Journal of Sociology)

    The return of citizenship? An empirical assessment of legal integration in times of radical sociolegal transformation (International
    Migration Review)

    Posted 01/02/2019 09:24