EU nationals are losing interest in moving to the UK as Brexit approaches

LONDON — Growth in the number of EU nationals looking to move to the UK has fallen sharply in the year since the EU referendum, according to analysis of web traffic to flat-sharing site Spareroom.

In the 10 month run-up the referendum in June last year, the number of EU nationals looking to move to the UK was up by 14.7%, but in the same period following the referendum that dropped to a growth rate of just 4.35%, with the number looking to move from Eastern European countries falling.

In the period of July 2016 to May 2017, the number of Slovakians making enquiries on the website fell by 8% and the number of Poles fell by 5.4%. Numbers also fell in Hungary (-3.18%), Romania (-2.78%), Estonia (-2.71%).

Some countries bucked the trend and recorded a rapid growth in the number of people considering moving to the UK.

The number of people making enquiries from Croatia — which has only had the benefit of free movement since 2013 — increased by 17.53%. The number from Greece increased by 17.53% as its financial crisis rumbles on and forces Greeks to look elsewhere for work.

Out of the top 15 countries recording falling numbers, 13 were EU member states.

The figures are the latest indication that the government’s hardline position on EU immigration is making the UK less attractive as a destination for migrants, with Theresa May pledging to cut immigration below 100,000 by 2020.

Figures from the ONS show that 117,000 EU citizens emigrated from the UK in 2016, and applications from EU nurses to work in the UK have fallen by 96% since the vote.

Migrants make a net contribution of £7 billion to the UK economy every year, according to OBR research.

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