Rebordering Britain and Britons after Brexit (MIGZEN)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology


The Brexit negotiations have brought public and political attention to longstanding concerns within migration and citizenship scholarship, throwing questions of citizenship, migration and belonging into sharp relief. It is also clear that Brexit has affected people's sense of belonging, mobility and settlement plans. In the wake of Brexit, Britons in the EU and EU citizens and non-EU Third Country Nationals (TCN) in the UK are finding the status and the terms of their residence challenged, their claims to belonging, and access to rights questioned, their settlement plans in jeopardy.

Rebordering Britain and Britons after Brexit (MIGZEN) turns its attention towards these emerging issues. Through a collaborative project involving academics, policy makers, civil society and migrant-led organisations it aims to produce new knowledge about migration between the UK and EU, and how the changing legal and political relationship between the UK and EU in consequence of Brexit shapes migration and migrant experience - including settlement, questions of identity, citizenship and belonging.

It takes a unique approach to understanding the story of migration between Britain and Europe that foregrounds both immigration and emigration from Britain, and adopts an inclusive understanding of who is a migrant to examine different forms of mobility, including third country nationals and those previously entitled to freedom of movement, namely UK nationals moving within the EU, and EU citizens moving to the UK. It offers a critical analysis of the relationship between migration and migration governance in the UK that situates it in the context of the current geopolitical repositioning of the country. By foregrounding the nexus between migration and citizenship, MIGZEN offers in-depth insights into the changing relationship between the UK and European Union through a focus on migration and its governance.

The project develops an ambitious and innovative programme of work on the impact of Brexit on migration to and from the United Kingdom at a range of scales: (a) policies and legal structures; (b) flows and routes; (c) migration strategies and settlement experiences where it addresses the following research questions:

- How, and in what ways, have volume, geography and direction of migration flows between the UK and EU changed since the Brexit Referendum? And how does this relate to global migrations to and from the UK?
- In what ways do settled populations - UK nationals resident in EU member states before Brexit and EU citizens living in the UK - assess their mobile and residential futures in light of their changing legal status, personal circumstances, political and economic crises, and the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How do transformations to migration governance regimes intervene in (a) decisions to migrate and repatriate (b) subsequent experiences of settlement for those newly migrating between to the UK and from the UK to the EU following Brexit?

Through an extensive and ambitious dissemination and impact plan, the project will contribute to academic, policy, and public debates on the past, present, and future lived experiences of Brexit and migration to and from the UK. Our research offers a unique longitudinal vantage point from which to examine the dilemmas and challenges British emigrants, EU and non-EU immigrants are facing as a result of Brexit, as well as to cast light on how they are coping, adapting and responding to the additional challenges brought by COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.


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