Xenophobia on the rise for Romanian migrants since Brexit and Covid
A recent study by a University of Glasgow-led research centre has identified that a significant proportion of Romanian migrants have experienced an increase in xenophobia and racism following the Brexit vote of 2016.
The study, carried out by the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE), explores how Romanian migrants’ inequalities of labour and migration status and their cultural values shape their housing experiences in post-Brexit/post-Covid Britain.
As part of the study, Dr Adriana Mihaela Soaita conducted interviews with a diverse range of respondents, over half of whom admitted to having experienced verbal abuse, racist language or indirect discrimination following the Brexit vote in 2016.
One respondent confessed to having been subjected to three separate instances of blatant racism and xenophobia. At the same time, another noticed an uptick in aggression towards those with an accent, once being told to “get off the bus and leave the UK.”
In 2017, Romanian migrants overtook those from the Republic of Ireland as the second-largest migrant group in the UK.
Professor Ken Gibb, Director and Principal Investigator at CaCHE, commented: “Dr Soaita’s important research reminds us of the challenges facing migrant workers during Covid-19 and in the context of the evolving changes brought on by Brexit’s realisation.
“These individuals, families and communities make a major contribution to British life, be it to the economy or to the dynamics of our neighbourhoods and towns. The experiences they tell us about should be widely read and reflected on by policymakers, practitioners and citizens.”
Dr Adriana Mihaela Soaita, Marie-Curie Fellow at the University of Bucharest, added: “As a Romanian migrant myself, I felt privileged in making other Romanians’ voices heard, showing their contributions to the UK society, their resilience over time of distress and their vision for social mobility in a society they praise for its meritocracy.”
The study also outlined the significant economic, physical, and mental health toll on Romanian migrants during Covid-19, many of whom were self-employed, employed in the hospitality sector or key workers.
Further, tightening borders meant they were separated from their transnational families, be they partners, children or parents.
First published: 29 March 2023