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Government calls on Lithuanian expats in UK to return amid growing hard Brexit concerns

  • 2019-01-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - The government is calling on Lithuanians living in Britain to come back home amid mounting concerns over a no-deal Brexit.   

"I don't want our discussions to be taken as a message that we fear a bigger flow," Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said at the Cabinet's meeting on Wednesday. 

"All people who decide to return to Lithuania, whether there are 100,000 or 200,000 of them, all welcome and we are ready," he added. 

Finance Minister Vilius Sapoka also said, "I'm calling on both the Foreign Ministry and other ministries to take this opportunity to remind people who have left Lithuania that they are welcome back home."

The number of Lithuanian returnees from the United Kingdom jumped by one-third in 2018 compared with 2017 to 7,600 people, according to official statistics. 

Some 12,000 people last year left Lithuania to live in the UK, down from more than 21,000 who did so in 2017. 

The factors that prompt some emigrants to go back home include uncertainty over Brexit, increased hostility to immigrants in Britain, the depreciating pound and rising wages in Lithuania.   

However, some Lithuanians may opt to leave for richer EU countries where wages remain higher than in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian government discussed on Wednesday steps to be taken should Britain withdraw from the European Union without a deal.

The likelihood of this happening increased after British lawmakers on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal.