‘Everything changed in 2016’: Poles in UK struggle with Brexit (The Guardian)

Damian Wawrzyniak, a Polish chef who lives and works in the UK. Photograph: Marcin Rafałowicz

In a series of conversations with the Guardian, Poles have described their shock, dismay, and in some cases, their anger at what many perceive as a resounding rejection of their presence in Britain, and their struggle to come to terms with the uncertainty surrounding their rights and future status.

There are approximately 900,000 Polish nationals living in Britain, the largest group of foreign nationals in the UK, and Polish is the second most widely spoken language in Britain after English. But statistics suggesting a sharp downturn in net migration from central and eastern Europe and acute labour shortages in sectors such as construction and hospitality appear to support strong anecdotal evidence that thousands of Poles are on their way out.

In a survey of 600 Polish business owners in the UK, 45% said they were considering moving back to Poland or to another country due to Brexit, while 30% said Brexit had already directly affected their relations with the surrounding community. Of those who said that Brexit had affected them directly, many cited a rise in hostility towards migrants in the wake of the referendum result. 

My report for the Guardian can be found here.

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