By Natalia Harvey, Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge, Alumnus of The Young Lawyer Programme 2016
I am British citizen with Polish family heritage. The blog contribution presented below is my own perspective and experience.
Britain’s exit from the EU, crudely coined ‘Brexit', shocked the world earlier this summer (23rd June). Its effects will undoubtedly be felt by most EU citizens and other foreign nationals. However, for Poland, the impact will be especially hard-hitting, as the UK is home to one of the largest foreign Polish populations (approximately 850,000 immigrants).
Aside from Brexit’s social and cultural impacts, one of the major consequences is the economic chaos caused by the falling value of pound sterling. For those who are not aware, many Europeans work in the UK to be able to provide financial support for their families back home. Brexit has had major negative effects on the UK-held savings of Europeans based here. Specifically, for Poland alone, this figure totals approximately a £728m reduction in value. It is estimated that around 20% Poles will return to Poland, as the currency is no longer a ‘pull factor’ for them to migrate. Conversely, the diminished value of the pound has meant that travel for British tourists has become exponentially more expensive, thereby affecting tourism in places such as Poland.
Polish companies also fear that they will lose investors and profit from reduced trading with companies in the UK. This is because there will potentially be new deals set for taxation that could consequently cost Poland and other European countries a large sum. Trade links may therefore suffer from this decision, as the UK was Poland's third largest trading partner. Polish shops in the UK fear that they will have to pay more tax to import their goods, which will hit the bottom line and could lead to an increased rate of small business bankruptcy and a spike in unemployment amongst this demographic. Consequently Polish-UK economic ties have been strained in the wake of Brexit.
Despite many British citizens being in favour of this change, it cannot be ignored that there are many hard-hitting disadvantages for EU citizens.