A NEW report has explored the impact of Brexit on the EU families who decided to leave the UK following the referendum in 2016.
The research by academics at the University of Birmingham was based on in-depth qualitative research with 37 EU families who left the UK following the 2016 referendum.
It explores the diverse factors associated with Brexit which led the families to leave the UK.
For example, many interviewees said feelings of “insecurity” had driven their decision.
One French single mother said the uncertainty brought about by Brexit contributed to her decision to leave. She told researchers: “To me, [leaving] is to bring my child into safety because of the uncertainty of the situation.
“I didn’t want my son to grow not knowing when and where his mum might have to go. I decide to cut the chase and say okay, I’m going.”
Others said anti-immigration hostility becoming heightened both during and after the referendum campaign resulted in them deciding to leave.
As one Belgian interviewee said: “Being Belgian, I think that is not something that people feel particularly strongly about, but my husband, being Hungarian, had a few negative comments, not necessarily in London but also in other cities.
“So we started realising that there was something going on that we didn’t really like that much. Once the referendum happened, I think it was very obvious to us that we were going to leave.
“We both feel very strongly European and we had no plans to settle outside the EU in the long term.”
Professor Nando Sigona, who co-authored the study, said: "Brexit was a seismic event, and its aftershocks are still being felt in the lives of EU families.
“Our research underscores the importance of understanding how political decisions reverberate within households, shaping the futures of individuals and families alike."
The report found that Germany was often highlighted as one of the country’s families leaving the UK considered moving to.
Portrayed as both thriving economically and remaining confident in the European project, many families chose Germany as the country which would most affirm their “Europeanness”.
It some cases, Brexit even caused the break-up of some family units.
One French mother-of-two said that her husband’s disinterest in the consequences of Brexit led to the collapse of their marriage.
“He voted remain but like so many others, they just think, I’ve done my job, I ticked the right box and then they washed their hands of the thing after that. They just don’t do anything and don’t want to hear about it.”
When he expressed no interest in moving to France with their children, where she felt they would be more secure, she filed for divorce.
“This is what Brexit is costing me really,” she said.
“This is the biggest thing. To force me to not live in the same country as my children and possibly to not live in the same country as my future grandchildren as well, if they might settle down in the UK, which looks fairly probable.”