The Brexit referendum was now four months less eight days ago. Ordinarily my strategic thoughts would go straight into my diary but I wish to to take the temperature of my friends and acquaintances. Here is my question:
Do you think you will feel safe in Britain in ten years time?
‘Safe’ includes safety walking down the street. There were ~40% more racially or religiously motivated offences in July 2016 than July 2015(ref) – edit, also 10% increase in antisemitism (ref). The rate of offences dropped back down to previous levels by the end of August. The Tories have recently announced they want the NHS to function without foreign doctors(ref), and that foreign children must be registered by their schools with the Department of Education from this autumn(ref). They announced and retracted plans to name-and-shame businesses who employed too high a percentage of foreigners (ref).
In ten years time, do you expect to feel safe walking down the street? If yes, and you are white British, do you expect this to hold true for people of colour or white non-British people? What is the breakdown of this feeling of safety based on religion and sexuality?
What street? Is it OK if I expect to feel safe because I live in London?
I cannot decide how alarmed I should be about the direction my country’s culture is heading. The Tories have 46% popular support(ref). YouGov show the retracted plans to shame businesses for employing foreigners were supported by a majority of people(ref). My brain is saying “Very alarmed”.
Britain voted to leave the EU. In one year, GBP/USD has fallen from £1:$1.5489 to £1:$1.2206, a 21% drop. A third of that drop came on the day of the referendum. On pure exchange rates, the Pound has not been weaker since 1985(ref). On trade-weighted exchange rates, the Pound has not been this weak since records began in in 1975(ref).
PwC predicted the UK’s financial sector would be worth somewhere between £2-12 billion less per annum as a result of Brexit, with a drop of 1.2%-3.5% in GDP(ref). Executives at CitiBank and Morgan Stanley have warned they may begin moving jobs out of Britain as soon as 2017(ref) if we lose financial passporting. While I think the financial services are of dubious worth, “financial services being taxed in Paris” is going to be worse for Britain than “financial services being taxed in London”. EU Council president Tusk has said there will be no ‘soft’ Brexit(ref).
I do not know enough about economics to draw conclusions from this. I read that a weaker pound favours exports and has been good for tourism(ref), but that we import lots of food. The conclusions from sources I trust (e.g. ref) are phrased in terms of economics and so are opaque to me. Charles Stross, the author, goes as far as to predict deaths from famine(ref) in his analysis similar to the one you are currently reading.
I cannot decide how alarmed I should be about the direction my country’s economy is heading, both on a personal level and on the level of concern for my neighbours. The changes that are happening are extremely large and there are too many motivated players for me to make any guesses. The City of London is not going to sit idly by. The Bank of England has received praise for its handling of the situation. My brain is saying “Very alarmed”.
The Northern Ireland peace process is predicated on EU law(ref). Scotland has announced it will attempt a second Independence Referendum(ref). The loss of Britain could destabilize the EU(ref). The uncertainty is large.
Actions to take
I am bewildered. There are no elections soon, and anyway the country appears to support our current path. The Labour Party has at least finished its most recent leadership crisis. Perhaps there will be some traction there soon.
Parliament is opposed to these changes and there are two cases arguing that Parliament must be given a binding vote on invoking Article 50(ref) which will formally begin the process of the UK leaving the EU. I have added to my to-do list to donate to these cases.
I see two options: First, I can trust and hope that Britain will pull back from the brink of madness, or that London at least will be insulated from the worst of it. Second, I can take a break from the UK until things calm down. Third, I can do a mixture, and define a set of socioeconomic indicators that I will track that will result in me leaving the country.
How do you feel? Am I overreacting?