In 1972, the UK economy got a shot in the arm from the influx of 27,000 Ugandan Asians following their expulsion by Idi Amin. They went on to become arguably the UK’s most successful immigrant community.
We may be about to witness something similar, albeit on a much grander scale. The security situation in Hong Kong has become increasingly fraught over the past 18 months, but the introduction of new draconian national security laws has prompted the UK government to offer up to 2.95m Hong Kong residents the chance to work or study in the UK for five years and ultimately apply for permanent settlement and citizenship. The UK government believes the laws contravene the 1985 Sino-British joint declaration, which preserved freedom for Hong Kong residents for a 50-year period after China assumed sovereignty in 1997.
We do not know what the eventual take-up will be under the offer, or whether China will revert to a more conciliatory stance eventually, but any large-scale movement could have significant implications for domestic property and capital markets.