Should I stay or should I go? Opinions and strategies of EU citizens living in the UK in the context of the EU referendum

This paper presents results from a survey conducted by the Centre for Population Change since February 2016. The paper examines what we refer to as EU migrants’ ‘coping strategies’ with the possible outcomes of the EU Referendum, which may fall into two categories: staying, which can involve taking no specific action, or considering applying for UK permanent residence and/or citizenship; or going, which involves considering leaving the UK for another country. In this paper we consider these strategies primarily from the perspective of three EU nationality groups: Portuguese, Polish and Romanian. The three are currently the most numerous EU national groups living in the UK (apart from Irish citizens), and they represent three different EU enlargement waves, with Portugal joining the European Union in 1986, Poland in 2004, and Romania in 2007. Besides exploring and comparing the ‘coping strategies’ of these groups, we also examine their opinions on the Referendum, such as its ‘legitimacy,’ preferred outcome, and the fact that EU nationals are not been eligible to vote.

Chris Moreh, Derek McGhee and Athina Vlachantoni (University of Southampton)