BM71: Freedom of Movement after Brexit

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Freedom of Movement after Brexit

ESU notes with sadness the result of the referendum on EU membership held in the UK in June, which has committed the UK to withdrawing from the European Union. The ‘Leave’ campaign actively promoted xenophobia and prejudice to pursue a project of isolation and reactionary scapegoating of migrants. In the wake of the Brexit vote, hate crime rose 41% in the UK. These are the consequences of a political project that has demonised migrants and ethnic minorities. Brexit has facilitated a political climate in the UK of unrestrained racism and violent intolerance. Blocking immigration and restricting freedom of movement became the key demand of the ‘Leave’ campaign. International students and academics in the UK, already facing discrimination in general society, now fear further attacks from the state itself. Restrictions on freedom of movement are likely to include an end to the rights of residency for EU academics and graduates, massively escalated tuition fees for EU students at UK universities, and severe limitations on participation in the Erasmus+ scheme. ESU stands in solidarity with these affected communities, and with students of the UK who have been devastated by the Brexit vote. An estimated 75% of young people voted for the UK to remain in the EU, and more than ⅔ of students believe the result was a bad one.* The UK student movement is longing for an international future and for an inclusive society. ESU shares the concerns of student organisations across Europe that Brexit and its political context is having a severe impact on the opportunities on the rights of students beyond the UK and on student mobility. The work of NUSs and international students’ groups to protect students will become still more important as the negotiations advance. ESU extends the hand of friendship to student organisations in the UK and across Europe which are working to retain freedom of movement for students, academics and wider society. We call on NUSs across the European Union to join NUS-UK in its efforts to lobby MEPs and EU institutions regarding the Brexit arrangements, and all future attempts to restrict international mobility, to secure freedom of movement and protection of rights for all.


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