Voters in the United Kingdom (UK) have voted to leave the European Union (EU), which has been referred to as “Brexit.” While the referendum to leave the EU has passed, this will not happen right away. The transition will take some time and in the coming months, British and European leaders will begin negotiating the terms of the UK’s departure. In the run up to the referendum, the discussion to leave the EU focused on many issues, but the driving force that seemed to push the referendum in the first place, was immigration. In the past few years, refugees have been flooding into Europe, due to political and economic instability in many parts of the Middle East and Northern Africa. The EU has seen the effects of this refugee crisis, with over 1 million people applying for asylum in 2015. Many in Britain and the EU have questioned the policies surrounding how to handle this surge of people and migration as a whole.
Curbing the number of foreigners coming to the UK was a major promise of the Leave campaign. However, the result of this referendum doesn’t just affect asylum seekers – there are currently about 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries and 3 million non-British EU nationals living in Britain. What happens to these people will depend on the terms of the negotiations between the UK and the EU. But with sentiment against immigrants being so hostile, it could mean that in the coming years, some people may lose their right to continue living and working in the UK and be deported. While Europeans and the rest of the world are trying to figure out what this means for the EU as a whole, one thing is certain – the issue of migration and the free movement of people into and out of the UK will be a top priority when Brexit negotiations take place.