What will Brexit mean for me?

17:41 15 February 2017

What does Brexit mean for me? | The New European

What does Brexit mean for me? | The New European

Archant

Well, if you voted to Leave the EU – congratulations. But did you vote for this?

Since June 23, 2016 the pound has plummeted in value, inflation has soared, reports of hate crime have risen, an unelected Prime Minister has seized power hell-bent on the hardest possible Brexit, our Government has tried to by-pass parliament while the ring-wing media has attacked the judiciary, and the rise of nationalism in the UK has been identified as the factor that catapulted a proto-fascist in to the White House.

And did you vote for that President – a man without shame at his own misogyny who wants to build walls and ban innocent people from travelling to the US – to ride down the Mall in a gold coach next to The Queen just so he will hopefully throw us a few scraps in a shape of a trade deal?

During the referendum campaign many Leave voters were lied to – about the single market and about funds for the NHS most famously.

If Theresa May does steer Britain to a Hard Brexit it is going to impact us all – whether you voted to Leave of Remain.

What will happen to my job after Brexit?

Four decades of EU cooperation has been good to the British economy. Back in the 1970s this was a struggling nation still unable to shake off the malaise of the post-war years. Europe was the shock Britain’s flat-lining finances needed. Inside Europe Britain has become one of the most successful economies in the world, able to punch far above its weight. London has become the gateway to Europe and since the Big Bang in 1986 The City has become the world’s financial capital. All this is now in jeopardy.

The current rate of unemployment sits at around 5% - 1% lower than the United States and more than 5% lower than France.

However it is true that Britain has for some years been hit with worryingly low productivity rates and stagnation in wage growth.

The Leave campaign painted a rosy picture of Brexit Britain with full employment and widespread prosperity. But the pressures on the job market due to the spike in inflation and a bargain-bin pound are likely to hit even before Britain quits Europe.

That hike in inflation means imports will become more expensive and, unless employers start to offer better pay increases, living standards will begin to decrease alongside real wage growth.

A poorly performing economy is likely to slow the number of people looking to come to the UK to work even before any new border controls are put in place. This could lead to companies who rely on EU workers being hit whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

There is also a very real danger of big firms who are currently based in the UK moving offices, and therefore jobs, to a EU member state so they do not lose the benefits associated with the host country’s membership. Already several banks have started investigating whether or not they should consider leaving the UK.

Frankfurt has emerged as London’s biggest rival as it bids to prise financial jobs away from The City. The German banking watchdog BaFin recently hosted a meeting for as many as 50 representatives of financial firms from overseas who are exploring how they will deal with Brexit.

Some believe that in order to keep the businesses in the UK the Government will be forced to drop corporate taxes and regulations – new US President Donald Trump has set out a similar economic plan for America. In a speech outlining some of her plans for Brexit Theresa May hinted that the EU should not punish Britain for leaving suggesting it could look to compete by becoming a tax haven.

So, even in the short-term Brexit could mean a loss of jobs and the cost of every day goods and services going up. Soon the standard of living for ordinary people will be impacted – those who are just about managing (the JAMs as the PM calls them) are unlikely to be better off post-Brexit.

Will holidays cost more?

Yes. There is no getting around it – Brexit caused a devaluation of the pound which has led to inflation (and it is set to continue). Your holiday is likely to cost you more, you won’t get as much for your money at the bureau de change and that glass of wine when you finally arrive will be more expensive too. Most experts believe the initial hike will be around 15% to 20% on the overall cost of traveling overseas.

And when you arrive at your destination after Brexit, expect longer queues and more time passing through passport control. Whereas now Britain, as an EU member but not part of the Schengen Agreement, employs a soft border for EU nationals this will likely change. So instead of taking around 25 minutes to pass through the border as a citizen of an EU member country it could now take as long as 45 minutes. Similar increases are likely to apply to EU citizens arriving in the EU, but Border Forces have urged the Government to consider an agreement to keep the current process in place .

What about if I am a EU citizen living in the UK?

Around 3million people who originate from EU countries now reside in Britain. This accounts for about 6.6% of the workforce.

In his resignation speech David Cameron attempted to quash fears that these people would be asked to leave. He said that there would be “no immediate changes” to their circumstances.

However, the Brexit Bill, put before parliament in late January 2017, offers no guarantees and it is believed that the Government wants assurances about UK nationals living in the EU before it makes its policy clear. This has caused outrage among some MPs. When the Bill has amendments placed upon it this is likely to be one of the major issues debated.

Experts believe that the vast majority of EU nationals will be allowed to stay – 71% have lived here for longer than five years which grants them that right no matter what happens during negotiations. However, rules on whether family members can join them, for example, remain unclear.

What about if I am an expat?

When the Bill to trigger Article 50 was being voted on in the House of Commons Labour’s Harriet Harman attached an amendment in a bid to ensure the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK. A predicted Tory rebellion was quelled when Home Secretary Amber Rudd sent a memo assuring colleagues “nothing would change” for EU citizens.

Theresa May has also blamed EU leaders for the hold-up.

The reason the Government does not want to be clearer is that the rights of the more than three million EU citizens in the UK is – in bargaining terms – linked to the rights of Brits abroad. When negotiations begin this may be a tool to get a better deal.

In all likelihood British expats and EU citizens here will be allowed to stay unrestricted. It seems unlikely that the Spanish coastal towns so beloved by retired Britons desperate for some sun or the French villages packed with second-homers that keep the boulangeries and patisseries in business will want to kick anyone out. And the impact of losing more than three million people to the British economy – both in terms of tax and wages spent at British tills – would be devastating.

Experts believe that the vast majority of EU nationals will be allowed to stay – 71% have lived here for longer than five years which grants them that right no matter what happens during negotiations. However, rules on whether family members can join them, for example, remain unclear.

Therefore a reciprocal agreement is likely for Britons abroad – but how long will the uncertainty last and what impact will that uncertainty have on potential moves in the meantime whether they are for work or leisure?

Words: Richard Porritt

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