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Immigration, Free Movement and the EU Referendum


  • Jonathan Portes


Immigration and free movement are central issues in the UK's referendum on EU membership. Although free movement was a founding principle of the EU, it only became of central economic and political importance after the expansion of the EU eastward in 2004. For the UK, the economic impacts of recent EU migration appear to have been relatively benign, even for the low paid and low skilled. The UK's recent ‘renegotiation’, which focused on the largely irrelevant issue of ‘benefit tourism’, will make little difference. A vote to Leave, however, will potentially take us into new territory for UK immigration policy,

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Portes, 2016. "Immigration, Free Movement and the EU Referendum," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 236(1), pages 14-22, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:niesru:v:236:y:2016:i:1:p:14-22

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    Cited by:

    1. Papageorgiou, Athanasios, 2018. "The Effect of Immigration on the Well-Being of Native Populations: Evidence from the United Kingdom," MPRA Paper 93045, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Sae Won Chung & Yongmin Kim, 2019. "The Truth behind the Brexit Vote: Clearing away Illusion after Two Years of Confusion," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(19), pages 1-16, September.
    3. John Curtice, 2017. "Why Leave Won the UK's EU Referendum," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55, pages 19-37, September.
    4. László Békési & Zsolt Kovalszky & Tímea Várnai, 2017. "Scenarios for potential macroeconomic impact of Brexit on Hungary," MNB Occasional Papers 2017/125, Magyar Nemzeti Bank (Central Bank of Hungary).

    More about this item


    immigration; free movement; European Union;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-


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