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Brexit – A View From The East

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UK residents living on a media diet of the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Express, could be forgiven for having their views on Brexit coloured by the often irrational stance taken by these publications at certain times.

Eastern Europeans make up a vast number of EU nationals who now call Britain home. They are also the group that came under the most attack from the Leave campaign for taking allegedly taking British jobs, space in schools and hospital beds.

The Conversation magazine recently wrote an article on how Eastern Europe viewed Brexit and it offered some revelations on how countries such as Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic viewed recent developments in the UK.

The Czech Republic

A poll conducted before the referendum showed 60% of Czechs disagreed Britain should leave the EU. There is concern in the Czech Republic that Brexit would lead to more unEmployment in the country and reduce their exports to Western Europe.

There is also a fear that any weakening of the EU would strengthen Russia’s position.


Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis, stated after the UK voted to leave the EU that Brexit would do little damage to the Romanian economy. However, there have been warnings that the vote may have strengthened support for Eurosceptic and nationalist groups within the country.


The Polish President, Andrzej Duda, is under fire from certain quarters following Brexit. Many accuse the government of providing few opportunities in Poland which forces many Poles to travel to the UK for better wages and opportunities. Brexit would close off this route.

Immediately after the referendum results were announced, Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita listed 10 possible disadvantages of Brexit including work permits, higher fees for Polish students, the end of cheap flights between the UK and Poland and more expensive Scotch whisky.

Russia is also a concern for Poland. Warsaw wants the EU to maintain sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, and London has been a strong supporter of a hard line toward Moscow. So has Berlin, but Chancellor Angela Merkel is under growing pressure to relent.

The Russian Threat

In the last few days, reports have stated that Russia and Ukraine are once again on the brink of war. The Financial Times reported yesterday that at present, it seems unlikely Mr Putin would really want to risk fresh conflict. However, many recent events have turned the wheel of fortune in his favour. Turkey, is trying to develop closer relations with Moscow following its failed coup attempt. In the US, Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, has praised Mr Putin and suggested Moscow should be allowed to keep Crimea. And of course, the EU has been rattled by the Brexit vote.

In Summary

Eastern Europe has always been economically vulnerable, and subject to invasions throughout history. This has left the bloc wary of both Russia and Germany. No wonder it does not want to see Britain leave the EU. This move could result in not only lost economic opportunities for its peoples, but cause the population to fear future political instability.

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