Brexit fractures EU, fate of immigrants hazy | Global News

Brexit fractures EU, fate of immigrants hazy

/ 02:19 AM June 25, 2016


What now?: Asian immigrants in Central London. MELISSA ALCANTARA

LONDON — Britain has voted. Democracy has spoken. Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned.

The UK is officially leaving the European Union.


In an earth-shaking referendum on June23, the majority of the UK public voted to leave its 40-year membership in the European Union. This is the biggest hit to the European mission of greater unity since the Second World War.


Aside from far-reaching economic issues, the vote to exit also puts into question the fate of Spanish, Greek, and Italian Filipinos who have relocated to the UK with their families for better opportunities, not to mention that of half a million Filipino immigrants.

The referendum results came out early morning on June 24. Mere hours after the results were published, Prime Minister David Cameron, who initiated the referendum and campaigned heavily to remain, announced his resignation.

Nicknamed “Brexit,” the British exit vote has shown that Britain is divided. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain, while Wales and England opted out – apart from London, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU.

Scotland, which firmly expressed its desire to stay in Europe, will likely call for its own referendum to become independent from the UK.

Interestingly, “Brexit” has stirred exit rumors about other EU countries, with Italy, Holland, France, and Denmark allegedly seeking to call their own referendums.

Uncertainty for Europeans in the UK


There has been much discussion about “Project Fear,” i.e., immigrants flooding into the UK, as being the reason for the result.

Being part of the EU allows for free mobility across the continent. The largest European-born populations in the UK are Republic of Ireland and Germany, both at around half a million, and Poland, which now stands at around one million. Now, this ease of movement will possibly cease.

Europeans living in the UK are left in immigration limbo, as no clear plan was announced about what would happen to them should Britain leave the EU.

Likewise, around two million Britons live and work across Europe. Their collective futures now hang in the air.

Although Britain’s stake in the EU will likely continue for at least two more years, it seems that British influence will grow considerably less powerful as time goes on.

It will no doubt be a challenge for the nation to effectively negotiate not only the terms of its departure from the EU, but also how trade finance, and politics, among other pressing topics, will be handled.

Filipinos affected in Europe

Almost half a million Filipinos are estimated to live in Britain, who will likely be affected by the referendum result – whether positively or negatively is circumstantial.

Likely to be impacted positively are Filipino health care workers in the UK, who provide the highest number of qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in the National Health Service (NHS) after British nationals. The Philippines also provides the third highest number of NHS staff in general.

Will the NHS and other pivotal UK systems collapse without the support that European nationals provide? Will employers offer to cover valued European employees with working visas? Only time will tell.

Going forward, Filipinos in the UK may very well have greater employment opportunities. However, their ability to work, study, live, or transact business in the 27 other member countries of belonging to the EU is likely to be greatly, if not entirely, reduced.

The most urgent need for answers is among Spanish, Greek, and Italian Filipinos who have relocated to the UK with their families in order to escape the financial declines in their host countries. Their status in Britain is now called into question.

A hazy future for Britain

Prime Minister Cameron took a political gamble, using the EU referendum as bait for his re-election. His strategy having backfired, Cameron is stepping down. His resignation will take effect in October 2016.

Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister now opens the gates for new leadership – someone to direct effective negotiations with the EU, and to take into account the conflict that has brewed across the nation.

Conservative MP and previous Mayor for London Boris Johnson is a likely candidate to become Cameron’s replacement for Prime Minister. Johnson was a firm follower of vote leave.

Whether or not Johnson gets elected, or even puts himself into the running, hinges on the “Brexit” outcome to follow.

Certainly the coming weeks, months, and years will be a turbulent time for those in Europe – and especially those in a deeply divided Britain.-@melissalegarda

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TAGS: Boris Johnson, Brexit, Filipinos in UK, Prime Minister David Cameron

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