The Brexit fall out: a Walmart effect

Before the actual referendum, the UK was accused by various European citizens and politicians of treating the EU like a local Walmart. One of the many accusations heard, inside and outside the EU Parliament after the Brexit is, that the EU gave the UK lots of exemptions, exceptions, special treatment. As thanks, it treated the EU like sh*t all, before brexiting and causing turmoil in the UK itself, the EU, the world.

Yesterday, some British media promoted rumours EasyJet and Vodafone threatened to leave the UK to find greener investment and tax pastures within the EU. Some British newspapers stated the British construction sector might hit a “brick wall”, as foreign investors are now freezing projects or seeking non-British firms for prospects. On CNN British experts were treating the news with contempt: the dust would settle down.

Meeting another set of friends in town, it was not the British economy or future depression which were being discussed. As usual, talk was about the likelihood of Brits soon needing work permits to work in the EU and visa to visit or stay in their homes on the Continent.

Then someone mentioned a recent chat with an US professor. Well before the Brexit result, European journalists had interviewed exchange students, as well as university governors and board members in the UK.

The students mentioned racism and being made to feel unwelcome and unwanted. The governors and board members mentioned some universities would lose 20% or more of their funding in case of a Brexit. This was a few days before the Brexit.

Yesterday evening, I was told US universities were aware UK’s universities and research institutions would lose income if the referendum result would mean a Brexit. US universities and others around the world, are always interested in bright exchange students. Any university and any institution with a research department is always very interested in acquiring the brightest minds.

With UK universities and research departments now set to lose part of their EU income, US universities aim to poach the brightest lecturers, professors, researches from the UK. After all, the loss of a fifth or more in income, will ensure cutbacks. The US and other countries with enough money to spend, can now treat the UK as a Walmart and entice the brightest minds away.

You’re laughing? You don’t take a UK brain drain seriously? Countries like the US will not wait two years for all the treaties, agreements, regulations between the UK and EU to be unravelled and severed. They will not wait for 10 weeks, for the results of leadership contests in the Labour and Tory parties . They don’t need to wait for a new British PM to start negotiating.

Some US university “head-hunters” had already started putting out feelers, the day the Brexit result became known. Informal chats were paving the way.

The Brexit will not just affect the UK’s building and construction sector, firms and internationals. It will hit universities and the innovations, inventions, discoveries, research carried out in the UK as well. For losing funding is one thing, finding new incomes a different problem.

Independent: UK construction sector 


About Kate

Multilingual arts & culture journalist, blogger, columnist, writer and translator. Contributor to international (news) media. 2014 winning columnist Gentse Schrijversdagen, Gand, Belgium.
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