Brexit – will they or won't they?

On June 23, the British will answer the following: “Should the UK remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” With the referendum impending, only more questions appear. In a very Shakespearean fashion, the Brits are divided whether to be or not to be in the EU. While the political aspect of this debate is obvious, it's about the influence, power and decision-making, aspects like migration are far more complicated.

It's often said that withdrawing from the EU would reverse immigration, especially its uncontrolled aspect. Some claim that the influx of cost-effective professionals damages the local pool of IT talent. Upon the exit, the British government would make sure that only the most skilled workers enter the country by the means of a visa system. Also, it is already nearly impossible to hire crème de la crème as fearing the lack of control actually leads to stricter attitude toward migrants. Only 1/3 of British largest publicly listed companies signed the letter against Brexit, but some employers are afraid of losing potential workers. This sentiment seems to be even more popular amongst the unicorn organisations: none of them openly support Brexit, most refrain from commenting. Paradoxically, controlling migration might lead to further migration – only this time the companies will move their headquarters, and the jobs, abroad.

While many fear that young graduates will have a hard time finding work or studying in the EU, others claim that the cost of staying in the Union is far greater. By some estimates, if even a small amount of the EU subscriptions were spent on education, the British youth would thrive. On the other hand, many students from the EU won't be able to afford British tuition fees, preventing them from taking part in the education system and becoming part of its workforce. Besides, highly skilled workers with international expertise will not transplant their know-how into the UK economy. The IT sector remains convinced that there's a shortage of skilled IT professionals in the UK: from Python developers through IT security and big data experts to IT project managers. Not to mention such IT-related issues as: the importance of outsourcing, the appeal the EU membership holds for potential investors, or the EU grants and subsidies that would simply disappear.

According to research, work is the most common (70%) motivation behind migrating from the EU. Ever since Brexit became a conversation topic, job vacancies in Britain plummeted. Recruiters are more hesitant; some fear that as soon as the UK leaves the union, EU workers will go as well. Britain can now choose candidates from 500 million people; breaking up the union would mean a smaller pool of options. Yet, some say that while the EU has been beneficial, only big business has been the beneficiaries. Amazon or Facebook wholeheartedly support the EU because of tax savings, while SMEs suffer the costs and red tape.

Eurosceptics and Europhiles forget about the legal aspect of Brexit. Many European laws became an inherent part of the British law, e.g. copyright, intellectual property rights, or data privacy laws. Their impact on the IT world, and its users, cannot be understated. The intricacies are far more speculative than those of losing the EHIC.

The economic arguments are just as indecisive. “We'll save billions in taxes.” “We'll lose taxes paid by the European migrants.” Britain would be free from the economic burden imposed by the EU, but it may suffer income falls like those from the latest global financial crisis. Eurosceptics hail 1.6% increase of GDP in 2030. Europhiles argue that the EU is the UK's biggest trading partner. The consensus seems to be that short-term losses are unavoidable. For some, the disadvantages stop here. For others, they're just the beginning.

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