In the aftermath of Brexit, British politicians have strategically avoided the refugee crisis. Even while campaigning for the EU referendum, the Remain camp paid little attention to the subject over fears of dividing voters sympathetic to the ideals of the pan-European project. It’s not difficult to see why. Britons watched 1.1 million refugees pour into Germany in 2015. Fears of a similar reality in the UK drove many citizens to vote Leave on June 23.
The UK has been largely unaffected by the influx of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. Following Brexit, migrants’ path to the UK doesn’t get any easier. Although integrating such a large number of migrants isn’t without its challenges, there is an economic case for accepting them.
For all the challenges associated with the refugee crisis, it is already having a “sizeable” positive impact on the EU, according to the European Commission. Economists at the central agency say refugees will have a positive impact on economic growth, employment and long-term public finances in settlement countries such as Germany and Sweden. The Commission said that the three million expected arrivals by the end of 2016 would boost annual GDP by up to 0.5%. The positive impact won’t be felt on Britain, which accepts only 4,000 refugees a year.
Brexit may have been a monumental achievement for British nationalists, but it is widely expected to diminish short-term economic prospects. Uncertainty over future UK-EU trade relations is also expected to weigh on consumer spending and business investment – two key pillars of the economy. For that reason, the Bank of England has slashed its growth outlook following Brexit, warning of a significant slowdown in economic activity.
The Bank now expects GDP to grow 0.8% in 2017, a fraction of the pre-Brexit …