About 3.2 million citizens of other EU countries live in the UK

Published: 27th Jan 2017

In brief


30,000 EU nationals live in the UK.


This is wrong, about 3.2 million nationals of other EU countries live in the UK.

“We will be fighting to get the best Brexit we can. We will be fighting first and foremost to do something for the 30,000 EU nationals living in this country which have a terrible shadow of uncertainty over them.”

Diane Abbott MP, 27 January 2017

The figure Ms Abbott uses is wrong.

Around 3.2 million people living in the UK in 2015 were citizens of another EU country—about 5% of the UK population.

Some of them face an uncertain future in the UK, because we don’t yet know what arrangements the UK will make after free movement of citizens comes to an end. The government has so far signalled it aims to protect the long-term status of EU residents here.

Figures from a few years ago suggested that just over half of them arrived between 2006 and 2014.

We’ve written about this before in our piece on EU immigration into the UK.

Figures for 2015 suggest that 1.2 million people born in the UK live in other EU countries, and we’ve looked at those estimates in detail before too.

For the moment we’re assuming that the mistake was a slip of the tongue, but we’ve asked Ms Abbott if she meant to refer to something more specific.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.

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