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Why Americans should care about Brexit

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK

Everyone should care about Brexit. While it may seem like a never-ending saga blighting Britain and the European Union, the repercussions of the UK severing ties with the remaining 27-nation bloc will affect trade, immigration, and money in your wallet.

Two years ago, Britain voted to leave the EU by a slim majority. The path towards an agreement about what a Brexit deal would look like has been anything but smooth-sailing. There have been numerous political resignations, as well as votes of no confidence in prime minister Theresa May’s leadership and the government itself. Parliament has even shot down the deal that May sealed with the EU.

There is less than a month to go and it’s looking likely that Brexit will be delayed. While it’s uncertain how negotiations and an agreement will eventually pan out, we do know that Brexit has been hugely disruptive for non-Brits as well.

Future jobs

One of the main reasons why a slim majority of Brits voted for Brexit was to curb immigration. While Brexit will change the rules on migration for both Brits and EU citizens, the environment for all other international people looking to live and work in the UK will likely change too. These immigrants could soon face fiercer competition from their European counterparts.

Under the Freedom of Movement Act, EU citizens are able to live and work in any other member state without onerous rules. However, a new framework that the prime minister and a number of high ranking politicians have endorsed would put EU citizens under an immigration points system.

This includes making sure that in order to obtain a “highly skilled migrants” Tier 1 visa, people will have to earn at least $65,000 a year, have a similar amount in savings, and hold multiple degrees.

Your job could be in jeopardy already

It already costs businesses to sponsor international workers to come to Britain and work for them. It is unclear whether this amount or the fees will rise further, but major companies and banks are already moving thousands of jobs out of London to other EU countries.

These companies are looking to safeguard themselves from the inevitable disruption that will come from severing ties to the EU.

Global recruiter Morgan McKinley emphasized in January this year that London-based financial jobs have dropped to a seven-year low. Month-on-month, there was a 52% decrease in jobs available, as well as a 29% decline in professionals seeking jobs. Year-on-year, there was a 39% decrease in jobs available and a 29% decrease in professionals seeking jobs.

Rolling all of this together, if you’re thinking of migrating to the UK or you already have a job here, your status is in flux.

The uncertainty over trade

Another huge issue that Americans and others in the international community should worry about is what’s going to happen to trade post-Brexit.

Whether you’re a large company or a small firm that sells services or goods overseas, you will be at risk of disruption in a post-Brexit landscape. That is because trading conditions and tariffs are uncertain. US companies like Molson Coors, BlackRock, and eBay have already warned about the risks.

Even International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde has recently repeated her warning that a no-deal Brexit would be a threat to global economic stability.

The good news

If you are looking to go on vacation to the UK or send your kid to a private English boarding school, everything is relatively cheap right now.

That’s because the pound is still weak against the US dollar, especially when you compare it to before the EU referendum. It’s down over 20% from five years ago:

Chart: Yahoo Finance


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