Friday, August 02, 2019

Tanking the economy

As far as I can see, the majority of people who voted for Brexit in England did so because they had reached breaking point on the back of years of austerity and they wanted their lives to get better (not logical in the slightest, I know, but they genuinely believed things had hit rock bottom and Brexit offered a new and better future.) The EU was a great scapegoat, but killing off the scapegoat rarely improves your situation. That is why, if Boris goes through with his version of Brexit, he better also be investing in the space program, as he's going to need a one-way ticket to Mars, when the angry hoards come after him when things get even worse.

Watching from abroad, you get a much clearer view of what's going on back home, and the most striking for us this week has been the transfer of our house sale funds from the UK. The house sale went through on 19/7, but it took until 25/7 for the cheque to clear and be available to move out of the UK. We authorised the transfer of the money exactly 24 hours after Boris came to power (trying to minimise any damage his loose-cannon talk might cause), we locked in an exchange rate (thank god), but by the following Tuesday it still hadn't showed up in our bank account here. Thomas rang the banking transfer company to ask what the hell was going on and we were told it was taking much longer than usual as 'people trying to remove cash from the UK at the end of last week had hit an unprecedented level'.

Fortunately for us the money turned up on Wednesday. Interestingly, we checked exchange rates and had we not locked in a rate the previous Thursday, we would have lost fully £5000 in the space of five days. That's not loose change - that's a second-hand car!

Going forward, paying for the Charlotte's room in Glasgow, hiring a car or letting the kids buy their clothes on trips home is going to be easier, but this is not good. Everything imported into the UK will get dearer (and let's face it, the UK imports everything, more or less). Holidays for the rest of my family will become prohibitive. Affording to buy in necessities such as medicine will become harder. The hostile environment has already put off the majority of healthcare workers and similar applying to come to the UK, the rest will be put off by the exchange rate. Working abroad is much less attractive if you can no longer afford to go home on a holiday.

I'm desperately worried for my country, at least in the short term. I cling to the hope that when they come to their senses, they will come there big time and things may turn round forever, but in the meantime, I have kids back home, and a mother and brother with a family, I have dear friends. Watching the madness unfold with the clarity of distance, in a country where things are just turning over normally, is almost harder than being in the midst of it all.

No comments: