I know I have said it before, but at the time it was just a hunch: the price to pay for an “un-cool Britannia” after Brexit will be steep. Evidence for this is beginning to show. A survey released recently shows how fast Britain is losing attractiveness in the eyes of the world.
The UK fell dramatically in the rankings of the best countries to live for expats, published every year by expats network InterNations. After last year’s Brexit vote, the UK fell 21 places in one year to 54 out of 65 countries, this year’s recently published rankings show.
The survey was carried out before the snap election in June, but even so, the percentage of those who regarded Britain’s political stability favourably fell sharply, from 77% in 2016 before the Brexit vote to just 47% this year.
This also led to a noticeable drop in the country’s attractiveness in the safety and security subcategory of the quality of life index: the UK now ranks 42 out of 65, compared with 26 out of 67 last year.
The UK is also below the global average when it comes to the attitude towards foreigners: 50% of the respondents said the attitude towards foreign residents in Britain is generally good, compared with 67% worldwide. More than a quarter said they have felt unwelcome due to their nationality.
Besides hostility towards foreigners, which is now pretty open both on the part of the public and on the of the government (a recently leaked paper confirms that after the UK leaves the European Union, EU citizens will lose rights already granted), there are also the usual challenges of life in the UK that expats are unhappy with. On these, they have common ground of complaint with the British.
An affordable place to live is a real challenge for foreigners’ budgets, as for the locals’: 69% of expats are not happy with the price of housing, with 28% thinking affordability of housing is very bad. An unnamed Irish expat quoted in the survey remarks that “accommodation is very expensive and living here is a struggle financially.”
Brexit voters have blamed migrants for the housing crisis, but, as I’ve written earlier, migrants are the wrong foreigners to blame. When you have a country where it is easy to buy property without disclosing your real name and then to leave it empty to “accumulate value”, you can expect a shortage of housing to build up over time. Brexit is not going to fix that.
Thousands of people marched through London last Saturday demanding an “Exit from Brexit”, in an attempt to reverse what could turn out to be the biggest act of self-harm in modern British history.
But with the government seemingly engaged on a fast track course towards the cliff edge, the chances for some sort of deal are diminishing. Perhaps the mounting evidence of how damaging Brexit is will change that before it’s too late.
Main points to watch over the week:
— UK August consumer price inflation released
— Bank of England meeting on interest rates
— Eurogroup eurozone finance ministers meeting