British Brexit Minister Michael Gove stressed that this means that there are more European Union citizens living in Great Britain than in some EU member states themselves. London sees this figure as evidence that Britain’s exit from the European Union has not led to a massive exodus of EU citizens.
After the Brexit referendum in 2016, many companies and universities warned that too many people would turn their backs on the UK and that Europeans would return to the continent en masse. But EU citizens as well as the Swiss can still apply for a permanent residence permit to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. This has been used extensively.
According to Minister Goff, 4.9 million applications were received, and the government awarded 4.3 million of them. “It’s a great advertisement for this country,” Goff said. “People chose to stay in unprecedented numbers.”
European Union member states such as Slovenia, Malta, Luxembourg and Lithuania have fewer European Union citizens. But according to previous British figures, there are also many Europeans who have decided not to stay in Britain. The net number of people still left behind is more than what is left behind.
A look back at “the chaos of Brexit”
December 31, 2020 was the last day of the Brexit transition period, however, and the European Union bade farewell to the United Kingdom. EU correspondent Christoph Schmidt looks at the Brexit headlines that have appeared in Trouw since 2016.