Researching the implications of Brexit

The UK's decision to exit the EU has created great uncertainty for a number of communities across the UK and Europe. Mixed nationality EU families in the UK, British pensioners living abroad, EU nationals working in the UK and others are facing a series of questions relating to their legal rights, many of which will take time to be resolved, impacting their economic, social and personal welfare.  In addition to these personal impacts, much larger structures such as businesses, healthcare and education are also subject to the consequences of Brexit over the short and long term.

In response to Brexit, IRiS is leading a series of research projects to explore a number of these key issues, helping to answer important questions through innovative research methods. These projects are highlighted below.

EU families and 'Eurochildren' in Brexiting Britain 

The UK has been a part of the EU for 40 years. During this period several generations of children born to parents of mixed EU nationalities have been born. This segment of society is greatly underreported yet will be severely effected by the implications of Brexit on citizenship for themselves, their parents and older generations of their families. Through the study of Eurochildren and their families, this project, funded by The UK in a Changing Europe, will chart the emergence of a new politics of belonging which reconfigures who belongs in a post-EU Britain and establish a baseline for future research on migration and settlement decision making involving EU families. To achieve this the project will:

1. Profile and map of UK and EU born children of EU nationals in the UK and examine different types of EU families.

2. Investigate how families with at least one EU27 member experience and respond to the process of exiting the EU.

3. Examine the impact of the EU referendum and its aftermath on different age groups of UK born Eurochildren, examining how they articulate their sense of belonging in relation to the uk and EU.

For more detailed information on this project please click here

For regular project updates and reports please visit the 'Eurochildren' blog

Principal Investigator, Dr Nando Sigona, also has series of podcasts available which will be added to throughout the duration of the project. You can find them here.

Implications of Brexit for British pensioners living in Spain

The EU referendum has created huge uncertainty for older British migrants living in Spain in relation to their rights to reside and access to support. It may also have a profound impact on their sense of belonging and identities as British, Spanish or EU citizens. This project, led by Dr Kelly Hall, draws on qualitative interviews with British pensioners living in Spain to explore i) how the vote to leave the EU impacts on the identities and experiences of older British migrants living in Spain; ii) how the referendum impacts on their past, current and future migration trajectories; and iii) the impact of any changes to their rights to health care, social care and welfare support. The project will also explore whether Brexit has or is likely to trigger the return of elderly British people from Spain, which will have significant implications for health, care and other welfare services in the UK.

For further information on this project please read Dr Hall's article in The Conversation

EU migrant family businesses in Birmingham: reactions and responses to Brexit

This project attempts to understand the ways in which EU citizens running businesses in the UK are coping with the uncertainty of Brexit. The team interviewed 15 Polish family businesses and 7 families running businesses originating from Baltic states (Latvia and Lithuania) in Birmingham. Since the Brexit vote, these migrant entrepreneurs have faced an uncertain future. They may not be allowed to continue to run their businesses or remain in the UK. The research explores how Brexit may impact on the businesses they run, their sense of belonging and the cohesiveness of the communities within which they are situated. Possible loss of EU run businesses could result in direct and indirect job-losses, as well as a reduction in tax, National Insurance and Business Rate contributions. The research will explore:

  • Lived experiences of life and work in Birmingham for the individuals and their children - feelings of attachment and welcome, responses to media and politicians' narrative.
  • The impact of lived experiences on identification with the UK, future aspirations and investment decisions and how these evolve across the Brexit process.
  • How respondents' translocal connections' attitudes to migration to, and potential investment in the UK changes in response to Brexit and the experiences of their connections living here.

This project is led by Dr Catherine Harris, Dr Aleksandra Kazlowska and Dr Natalia Vershinina.

The quest for home of European Somali families in Britain

Since 2000, a large number of Somali families have made Birmingham their home. The Brexit vote has brought great uncertainty for many, destabilising their notions of home and sense of belonging. Secondary migrant Somali families have settled in Birmingham having sought asylum in various EU countries. The perceptions of the UK as being tolerant to religious and cultural expressions of their identities was a key factor in their migration to the UK (van Liempt, 2011). In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, Dr Chris Allen and researcher Ozlem Young conducted a research project which examined the lived experiences of these families with a focus on identity and belonging. Through interviews, the research highlighted the multiple complexities many had faced in trying to construct their identities, acknowledging how attachments to multiple places, experiences and communities through the migration process had deeply impacted this process. 

The feeling of being rejected through Brexit (not for the first time for many refugees) undermined their emotional identification with Birmingham. For some it has led them to a desire to migrate to a new country, others were so unsettled they expressed a feeling of not being able to feel a sense of belonging to any place. The intimate feeling of home has been disrupted and indeed broken for many who are now left with a need to reconstruct their identities once again.

For more information about this project please click here