Stay for Brexit or begin again in New Zealand?

Boris’ Brexit is on. So, how should New Zealand employers pitch their opportunities to the young, urban, skilled professionals who overwhelmingly saw their future within the EU?




“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.

But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Churchill’s oft-quoted assessment of the challenge Britain faced in 1942 also captures its current Brexit status. Churchill was a champion for UK engagement with Europe. Ironic, given his attitude of fortitude was co-opted by Brexit’s promoters in the years following the 2016 vote to leave the EU.

PM Boris Johnson’s overwhelming majority is the second referendum Remainers sought, just not the result they wanted. December’s election outcome means ‘transition’ to Brexit starts on January 31st, toward an EU trade deal in late 2020. While better informed about the UK’s direction, Britons are none the wiser about what it means for their economy, careers and personal lives. In truth, little will change on January 31st. Uncertainty about the outcome of trade negotiations with the EU means Brexit as usual.

Johnson’s December election victory may mean he can negotiate a softer exit-deal with the EU. On the flip side, no-one is sure he won’t continue to threaten the hard no-deal Brexit so many British business fear. No-one can know until November 2020. But one thing is sure. Remain supporters have probably lost hope of staying in the EU. This will focus their minds on planning their own future opportunities.

Where to begin?   

From day one, there were stark differences between those who saw a future within the EU and those backing Brexit. Every argument has two sides and segmenting a population like Britain’s requires gross generalisations, but the result reveals insights.

Remain voters were more likely to be younger, educated urban professionals. People with the global outlook and transferable skills New Zealand employers covet. London, where Working In New Zealand is holding 2020 employer – prospect interviews, is a hub for top-talent. These same people may be questioning their prospects in the UK; wondering how long and difficult any transition to post-Brexit certainty might be?


In contrast, many Leave arguments implied a commitment to stay, live and work in a Britain over which its supporters had taken back ‘control’. 2016’s Leave voter was older, more likely to live in the regions, less qualified and on a lower overall income. Less likely to leave.

Source: June 2016. @GuardianData.


So, what does this mean for Kiwi employers recruiting in the UK in the next twelve months?

A new beginning?

Right now, as the damp, dark and chilling UK winter is at its worst, the prospect of migrating to New Zealand holds extraordinary appeal. We’re a youthful and optimistic destination. A great place to build a future or raise a family. A far cry from the rhetoric of forging on based in nostalgia. New Zealand’s politics are progressive and our export led economy can offer experiences on a global scale.

The emotional reasons. Our distance means relocating to New Zealand is one of the best ways to escape the polarised and often hostile opinions that characterised Brexit. Most people just want to make plans, enjoy their lives and spend time with their families as they grow. These simple pleasures are highly valued when considering our future happiness.

Perversely, uncertainty around the status of British passports in the EU post-2020, mean it is possible Kiwi passport holders may even enjoy easier travel rights around Europe. An EU–UK trade deal may take years to conclude, so migrating to New Zealand for their career may preserve rights that UK compatriots lose.

Brexit has been good for NZ’, says Hayley Roberts, Director of Working In New Zealand. In the past 12 months UK originated views of Working In New Zealand’s website are up 30% and post-Christmas sees a 25% increase in enquires. ‘Over the last few years Brexit has become a key reason that British workers state as to why they to move. Now is the perfect time for New Zealand employers to attract skilled ‘brexile’ professionals and tradies.’

The last words are Churchill’s; lesser quoted wisdom that captures the cost of lost talent to the UK as skilled tradies and professionals review their options in the post-Brexit winter-light.


“If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.”


To find out more, or if you’d like to participate in our 2020 UK recruitment trips, please contact