Student - February 2, 2020

Meanwhile in... The United Kingdom - ‘Everyone outside London feels neglected’

Since the Brexit referendum on 23 June 2016, when 52 per cent of the population voted to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom has been through turbulent times. After many no-deals, postponements and two new prime ministers, it seems Brexit Day will finally arrive on 31 January. PhD candidate Henry Payne (who voted remain) is happy that things are coming to an end: ‘I sometimes feel like the musicians on the Titanic.’

‘For many people, this whole Brexit process will probably look like cheap television with a lot of drama. However, it is more complicated. The fact that it is so politically destructive is because it is not a left/right debate, but more like a protectionist/globalist debate. Many pro-Brexit voters argue that, as an EU member, the UK is part of a single market where high competition leads to undercutting. They believe that leaving the EU will result in better local organization that can improve the economy. After all, wellbeing has been in decline since the economic crash; in fact for at least the last 20 years. A lot of people now have to use foodbanks and it is expected that poverty levels will reach record highs in the coming five years. I have family who work in the government school system and there are children who come to school unfed.  

I seriously doubt, however, whether Brexit will improve all these social problems under the current conservative government. So far, they have shown no signs of changing their policies on the most systemic existing problems. This could increase the inequality between people even further. Some of the Labour Party’s ideas are refreshing and could address social problems. However, it will probably take years before they are elected again after the severe losses of the December 2019 elections. It is really a shame how inefficient Westminster is. Everyone outside London feels neglected.

Whether Brexit will cause Scotland to separate from the UK, I do not know. They should do what is best for them. Ireland is a more contentious issue. The real priority when leaving the EU should be to make sure that Ireland is stable. Whatever that means.'

Henry Payne (25), a PhD candidate in the Farm Technology Group, reflects on the current political situation in his home country.
Henry Payne (25), a PhD candidate in the Farm Technology Group, reflects on the current political situation in his home country.