The psychology and sentiment behind the recent and surprising UK referendum result has been widely interpreted as a protest against immigration and the number of foreigners living and working in Britain.
So how might a post-Brexit United Kingdom welcome non- EU citizens like Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders wanting to live and work in Britain for extended periods?
Currently 49% of the total migrants settling in the UK are from within the EU, whilst the remaining 51% come from outside the European Union zone. One of the key policy planks of the Leave campaign included options to limit and control immigration. The discussion amongst Brexiters was to preference more highly qualified migrants via an ‘Australian-style’ points system. This system utilises a combination of employer sponsorship programmes, as well a points based skilled migration visa.
Such a system could theoretically open the door for thousands of Australian graduates and tradespeople wanting to live and work in the UK who don’t qualify for the existing Tier 5 Youth Mobility or UK Ancestry visas.
British employers have long admired Australian skills, qualifications and work ethic, so a revamped UK Visa system preferencing skilled migrants, especially those with English speaking backgrounds and education, may well result in a more diverse influx of Australians looking to further their careers in the UK.
Clearly any attraction Australians may have for working and living in Britain for a few years will quickly disappear if the UK economy continues to suffer from the negative sentiment currently afflicting UK financial and property markets.
It promises to be an interesting two years as the British government negotiates its way out of the EU and into an uncertain future, albeit with political and legal independence from Brussels.