What is one thing that a lot of alcoholics don’t like? Change. Uncertainty. That is my impression of listening to hundreds of people talking about life in their recovery in my dozen years within the recovery community.
And I identify with that. Change is a challenge, can be an opportunity etc. I’ve taken risks in my life in my recovery. I accepted redundancy from an extremely high paid job and again subsequently decided to go part time in a much less well paid job to train as a counsellor – a career which by the way many working in the UK only get paid expenses for by the organisations they work for. So I do embrace change and challenge and accept risk.
I hope this blog doesn’t become me bitching on about the state of the UK economy and politics but I was continually labelled during the referendum campaign as a scaremonger and someone who didn’t value the greatness of Great Britain. I pointed to researched facts and also that I thought there was much to be immensely proud of within this country that we achieved very much as part of the EU. I pointed to the sector I work in – research intensive universities. We have several in the top ten. We outperform for a country of our size consistently. Now some of that is historic given Oxford and Cambridge’s longevity as institutions of repute. But UCL, Imperial, Kings, LSE etc. don’t have that heritage as such.
So two weeks on from the referendum what do we have? A tussle to become prime minister, currently the short list is only at the behest of the 300 or so Tory MPs. Then the leader is elected by the 150,000 members of the Tory party. Hmmm… where have we taken back democracy? Our lead negotiator in our exit picked by less then 0.05% of the electorate with a majority government based on our first past the post system which has a commanding majority elected by less than 25% of the electorate carrying out a referendum mandate given by 52% of those that voted, in a 70% turnout, so if my maths is right 36% of the electorate. Isn’t democracy great…. hmmmm….
Oh yes remember our unelected House of Lords will also need to support every new law rapidly if we’re to get out of this mess in the 2 years we need to. Unelected… where did I hear that in the campaign?
I read an article about trade negotiators. Whitehall has 20. The EU has 550. We outsourced this activity 40 years ago now we need to take it back rapidly. Would you come and work for the UK if you were an EU negotiator? Where on earth are we going to get them so we don’t get screwed over on every deal?
My sector is in panic. I’ve heard much evidence of pretty much a wholesale removal of UK partner bids from the Horizon 2020 fund. That is the large researcher and innovation fund in the world. Whilst statements from Jo Johnson (brother of Boris) who is the minister responsible states that legally we are still in the EU until 2 years after Article 50 is enacted and therefore legally we cannot be discriminated against let me ponder this. You are a researcher in Germany and normally partner with a top UK university. You are applying for a multi-year grant from Horizon 2020, beyond the UK’s like final divorce date. Would you think you are strengthened or weakened in your bid with your UK partner there? If you knew you and your wife were getting divorced would you take out a new loan together?
The pound is at a 31 year low, imports will cost more. We will exit the single market. There is no option to that at the end of the 2 year divorce we can start to negotiate back in but not until we are out of the EU – the rules are plain and simple and designed to make countries consider that risk too high. But we voted for it. I accept that. However I am increasingly depressed by the whole thing. We have no clear idea where we are going, the 3 remaining potential candidates of the Tory party say wildly differing things. Some say in the single market with immigration control (can’t see that happening, it is a fundamental that all members of the EEA inc Norway and Switzerland have had to accept) other say total free trade not in the single market. I predict 10 years of instability before we start to revive again. In that time bright young things like my son will potentially decided to go elsewhere. He already has filled in a Canadian visa application to see how his skills are rated. They’d welcome him with open arms. He’ll follow the funding in his field of research/expertise in three years of so once his first post doc position completes.
Other things I was told I was only scaremongering over… a two point credit rating downgrade of the country – that wipes our contribution to the EU saving off the map once we have to negotiate a new loan deal. Gilts lower than I predicted – the 10 year yield has never been beneath 1%. Stock market, if you value in the base of dollars which most international traders would follow as the true value, down about 9%, property development funds suspended due to concerns over investors pulling money out…. I could go on all day. Frankly the plug has been pulled out of our bath and we are going down the plug hole, meanwhile the so called leaders are either leaving the bathroom or deciding which shade of bathsalts we ought to put in the diminishing water that is running away. I’m worried, anxious, angry and concerned about it all. Uncertainty I don’t deal well with it.
In other news. I am going into hospital for my long await operation and have completed all my coursework for this year.
My son has nearly submitted his thesis and has landed a peach of a job at a top London university as a post doctoral researcher. My daughter completed her second year with a first on her undergraduate degree. Currently looks like two graduation ceremonies to be attended next year.