World
26.8.17

Missing the EU and Heading for Brexit

Courtesy of: pixabay.com -From snappygoat.com. Author of the photo: Alexas Fotos.

So the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. There will be many consequences of this action, but the effect is probably going to be felt the most by those residents of the UK who came from EU countries.

Approximately five percent of the UK populous is made up of persons who have come here from other EU countries. About 3.2 million people! Half of these are reckoned to have arrived since 2006. That’s a big extra spike in UK population figures.

A lot of people from the EU have established themselves in the United Kingdom. Most of those coming to the UK from the EU are coming here to work. Though five percent of the population may have immigrated from the EU, they make up seven percent of the working population. Most people from the EU came here to work and have been doing so since they got here. Most towns have several shops catering to the food tastes of our European neighbours. Most schools have children whose parents don’t speak English as a first language. Many people from the EU have established their first careers, bought their first house and car and sent their children to their first school here in the United Kingdom. When the population voted to leave the EU, it must have felt like a real kick in the teeth for them.

If you have given your best years to one country, you may feel unable to return to your previous one just because you were born there. At the same time, staying in the UK has had some of the appeal taken out of it.

And what will the absence of the EU workforce mean to the average Brit in everyday life? There are so many things that we have come to take for granted in the last ten years. Remember when getting a car wash meant driving through some spinning brushes? It never did a very good job, and now we get the car valeted inside and out for pretty much the same price. Supermarkets have a plethora of fresh produce available at comparatively low prices; the building trade is able to produce houses faster and at a lower cost; the number of people available to care for an ageing population, though still not enough, contains a high proportion of people from the EU. All this is possible because of the high number of EU workers available to UK businesses, and it’s not just at the minimum wage end of the spectrum. Many EU immigrants are taking advantage of the high standard of free education they received in their home countries to come here and work in fields like engineering and medicine.

There are factors that have influenced the UK population to vote to leave the EU. The United Kingdom is not a large country. Our cities are getting overcrowded. The cost of accommodation is becoming a higher proportion of our take home pay than it ever was.

Roads are becoming more clogged as people need to live further away from where they work. The health service and education facilities are struggling to cope. It’s a human trait to blame outsiders when resources get scarce. I firmly believe that this played a large part in why so many people voted to leave the EU.

The UK population experienced an annual growth rate of 0.7 percent between 2013 and 2014. This may not sound like a lot, but it was double the average rate for EU countries, some of which actually experienced a fall in population in recent years.

If leaving the EU results in a reduced rate of increase in the population of the United Kingdom, then maybe a lot of ‘leave’ voters will have got what they wanted. Though I should imagine there would need to be an actual fall in population to see any real change, and I can’t see that happening. The lack of people of working age coming to the United Kingdom is going to have a financial impact, and although it’s not all about money, the economy needs to be productive in order to pay for our services and infrastructure.

From car washes to fresh veg, I can’t see how we can carry on enjoying these things without paying a premium to cover the increased cost of labour, and with this, there may be an increase in import costs from the EU: some of the many costs we will have to pay for losing freedom of movement.

I can see why something had to happen. This rainy little island is just too small to accommodate a population increasing at twice the EU average. I do understand the frustration of people born here who have to wait in line at a hospital behind someone who came here recently. The fact that a large proportion of the hospital staff may have come here from outside the United Kingdom is probably of little comfort, though it should be appreciated.

I can see why many people from the EU want to come here and work. There are still opportunities to be had and established communities to feel accepted into.

After leaving the EU, the United Kingdom is going to have to step up. The contribution that the migrant workforce has made to the economy is going to leave a hole post-Brexit and it will be up to UK residents to fill that gap. Not just in the unskilled sector. We are going to have to make provision for young people to get educated in the sciences, engineering, production and medicine if we are to maintain the standard of living that we currently experience. That has to be paid for and I am at a loss to see where the money is going to come from. It may be the case that belts have to be tightened.

Personally, I am going to miss the EU. I enjoyed going to Paris as easily as going to Newcastle. Not to disrespect Newcastle, but I would rather take my wife to Paris. I will miss the multi-culturalism that we have taken for granted this century. I liked being a citizen of the EU, not just the United Kingdom. Being able to go to Spain, the Netherlands and France, safe in the knowledge that we shared the same rights. Practicalities have got in the way of that and prevented the United Kingdom from extending that same welcome to the rest of the EU. C’est la vie.

I’m a little sad. The fact is – I am going to miss the EU.

Global Seven News

Thorin Seex