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The fake news Guardian - misleading headline on Brexit and EU workers leaving

By Tom Winnifrith | Wednesday 28 June 2017


I bet the BBC News picks up on it and runs with it too. But its sister publication is quick out of the blocks...The Guardian today runs with a raft of misleading headlines and other fake news as is its wont but the one on Brexit driving EU workers abroad wins the prize. The left wing rag with plunging sales and spiralling losses states: "Almost half of highly skilled EU workers 'could leave UK within five years". The sub head is "Deloitte study finds 47% were considering leaving after Brexit, while overall one-third of non-British workers could leave". Right, okay but hang on what did the survey actually say and was it big enough to be statistically valid?

At least if it is true that will be freeing up c 1 million residences which will see housing become much more affordable as prices crash. That is surely good news for our young folks is it not? But there is a problem...the headline is er.. misleading!

So Deloittes surveyed 2,242 EU and non EU workers with half living in the UK and half living abroad. So how many actual EU workers living in the UK were surveyed? We are not told but I suggest that if that number is then broken down to skilled and unskilled the sample size is too small to be deemed accurate.

Those polled were asked how many were thinking of leaving within 3 or 5 years. But the big flaw is that we have no data on how many EU migrants who came here 3 or 5 years ago are still here. My experience - having hired a number of EU migrants both skilled and unskilled - in my time is that there is always a pretty material natural flow back. Folks want to make a life in their own country if possible. They may like the gastarbeiten in Germany of old have wives and families back home. They may want to go back as their parents get old and start to suffer ill health. In short it is perfectly possible - especially among unskilled workers - that a good number would have gone home without Brexit as that always happens.

My guess - based on experience - is that the 5 year number is at least 20% but that is a guess ( based on experience), it is up to Deloitte to put its survey in context by offering that data. And it should be for the Guardian to raise that as a major flaw, but of course it just ignores it altogether because it is an "inconvenient truth"  

Moreover it is all very well asking a Greek or a Spaniard and an Italian if they were "considering" heading home. I am sure many do but then they go home for a holiday and remember that youth unemployment is 65% back in the PIIGS nations. The reality is that the UK economy is relatively dynamic, many European economies are basket cases. Job in bustling exciting London, money etc or unemployment in Athens or Madrid. Your call? Ok - I stop considering leaving the UK.

What the headline also fails to convey is the question for those living outside the UK. Buried way down the Gruaniad article: "For respondents based outside the UK, the country was ranked as the most desirable place to work, with 57% of respondents placing it in their top three destinations. That put the UK ahead of the US, Australia and Canada for popularity."

The overpaid propagandists of Brexit Project Fear at the Guardian should, therefore, have no worries about there being a shortage of Euro-skivvies to serve them £5 Fairtrade semi-skinned lattes with a gluten free topping or to clean the lavatories in their multi million quid Islington residences. But do not let that reality not spoil a good fake news headline...

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