Brexit isn’t to blame for the Polish exodus

On the brexodus – at the Coffee House

Whether or not Britain is less friendly though, Polish migration was going to dry up anyway, and even go into reverse, because Poland has awesome growth rates. In 2016, Polish GDP per capita reached two-thirds of western European levels, the first time since the early days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and it’s inevitably going to get even better; for this the EU must take some credit.

Poland also has one of the best education systems in Europe – it consistently scores near the top of the PISA league table – and it also doesn’t have the, er, demographic challenges now facing Britain, France and Germany. One of the big contests in the 21st century will be the competition to attract the talented ten-thousandth, the highly mobile global elite; because the top earners tend to be at the age where they have children in education, making a country attractive to families is hugely important. A European nation with good schools and zero terrorism is going to be highly appealing.

Paris has been desperately trying to attract London’s elite since the vote in June, and last week Valerie Pecresse, president of the Paris region, pointed out: ‘When was the last time you took your partner off for a weekend in Frankfurt?’ Sure, but the sight of soldiers with machine guns everywhere does tend to dampen the romance a bit, and tourism to France is way down, especially from the Far East. And anyway, Krakow is a pretty good place to go for a weekend. The only dark cloud on Poland’s horizon, as the old Scottish joke goes, is ‘just wait till you see the neighbours they’re getting’. But all the indicators are looking pretty good, and thanks to the many personal ties made since 2004, maybe we’ll soon see more Brits moving to Poland than vice versa, like in the 17th century, when there were an estimated 30,000 Scots living in the country.


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