If countries were named after the words you first hear when you go there, England would have to be called ‘Damn It’.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms
As the Conservative government struggles to find its beating heart and resolve the issue of immigration both here and at the root cause, another issue is steadily making its way to the surface – although it is unlikely to garner as much attention as its opposite issue – emigration. At the moment it isn’t so much about the numbers as it about the reasoning: why are so many people eager to abandon the United Kingdom?
According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in 2014 323,000 people emigrated, 43% of which were Brits. Emigration peaked in 2008 at 427,000 but the trend has remained approximately the same ever since, the top 3 destinations being Australia, the United States, and Canada. There are approximately 5.5 million Brits now living abroad according to the Institute for Public Policy Research and as a percentage of population, Britain is one of the biggest emigrating nations in the world.
Britain is one of the biggest emigrating nations in the world.
Naturally, the figures contain an element of estimation. The main source for many of these stats come from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) whereby across the country at international airports, officials conduct a short survey with passengers walking to and from planes and their destinations. Confused? The truth is that nobody really knows whether or not someone is in the country if they shouldn’t be, whether they smuggled themselves in, or their visa has expired. True to form, the belief that so many problems could be solved by vast complex IT systems, E-borders was introduced by Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2003 at a cost of £1.2 billion. Needless to say, the system has yet to provide real data which can be integrated with ONS data, 2018 being the earliest date when the system will bear fruit.
So why leave? People yearn for sunnier climates, better job prospects, somewhere cheaper to retire, while others have undoubtedly become fed up with the UK. A real problem is that many of those leaving are highly skilled workers, leaving to earn better money abroad, moving to a better standard of life. This where we are starting to fail as a country, as a western economy. While the brochures and promotional ads show the side we all know – the country pub, the cricket green, the Tower of London, under the surface in the industries that support the people – the rot has already set in and it’s beginning to show.
The cost of care homes vary from £480 to £604 per week depending on your region and you have to pay the full care if your assets are above £23,250. Despite these costs, the Care Quality Commission continues to publish damning reports of bad care and abuse at many care homes. A Government pledge to cap total fees at £72,000 has been deferred until 2020. According to the Campaign For Real Ale, 29 pubs are closing every week. Town centre shops are closing at a rate equivalent to 16 a day with business rates being a main factor. All police forces across England and Wales will undergo major budget cuts over the next few years while a fifth of them have already lost 10% of their police officers, amounting to almost 10,000 since 2010. British industry is up for sale, with China investing heavily while British steelmakers are losing their jobs as the UK is flooded with cheap Chinese produced steel. Education is slowly being privatized as schools are converted to academies. Meanwhile David Cameron has voiced his concern over social and children’s services so you can be sure that they’ll be next up for privatisation.
So much of the fat has already been cut away that austerity is now beginning to slice into the bone. Billions of pounds of cuts have been made and more are on their way. The case for leaving the EU would have people believe that going solo will somehow bring whatever glory back – but it won’t. Being outside of the single market will have severe financial and commercial repercussions for many small and medium sized businesses, without even considering that Britain would no longer be part of the biggest trading bloc in the world. The EU takes almost 50% of British exports; the rest of the EU would not be in any rush to trade with Britain once tariffs and high taxes are imposed.
Our country is slowly turning into a corporate state, not behind the scenes like it already is, but right in front of our faces. The government is slowly grinding down the efficiency of our medical and social services with the view to bring in private companies to eventually take control and turn a profit at our expense. The NHS, once the pride of our nation, is being taken apart by lies and lobbyists. Agriculture is in a total mess with ridiculous sums of money subsidising the industry while supermarkets fix prices in their favour. The money we work hard for is being used to fund wars abroad and to subsidise corporations to come to the UK only for their profits to be funnelled out via tax avoidance schemes, many of which are provided by companies with connections to the government.
The case for leaving the EU would have people believe that going solo will somehow bring whatever glory back – but it won’t.
Let’s be honest, while this country still has much to offer in so many ways, the biggest appeal is fast becoming its financial services. We are becoming a new kind of tax haven and that will only bring more corporate greed. Instead of asking why so many people want to leave, the question should perhaps be: why would anyone want to stay?