24 universities in the UK, were in receipt of £400 million a year from the EU – that’s gone
By the time you read this, the UK will have left the European Union.
I know for some people, the fact that the whole Brexit fiasco is over, will come as a great relief. Watching incompetent politicians bicker and spew fantastic untruths for three years has, if I’m honest, been embarrassing and downright depressing.
For others who voted to leave the EU, they will be rejoicing, waving little union flags and wetting themselves at the prospect of Britain, once again, becoming a triumphalist cheerleader for narrow-minded and barely disguised xenophobia.
They’ll watch re-runs of the Battle of Britain and dry their eyes with the lapels of their John Bull waistcoats, becoming wistful at the thought of eating powdered eggs and turnips grown in Anderson shelters as they sing Rule Britannia.
They can only see sunlit uplands and a glorious fleet of ships sailing forth from the UK’s shores to once again conquer the world and by doing so, turn every map in every classroom into a sickly shade of Empire pink.
We all know that’s not going to happen, so what will be the reality of the UK’s decision to leave the EU?
During the turgid three years following the decision to leave the EU, a whole range of issues were never, or barely, mentioned regarding the EU’s contribution to life here in the UK. For example, before we left, the UK received significant funding from Europe for sporting programmes. This included funding for grassroots projects in areas where deprivationwas a factor in preventing children participating. The funding was also used to combat racism, homophobia and violence in sport.
UK universities will lose research funding from the EU now that we’ve left. The Russell Group, which is an association of the top 24 universities in the UK, says its universities were in receipt of £400 million a year from the EU – that’s gone. The Erasmus scheme offers opportunities for UK participants to study, work, volunteer, teach and train in Europe. It is open to education, training, youth and sports organisations. The scheme has previously invested over €1 billion to the UK – that’s gone.
The UK’s cultural and creative sector will probably also be decimated as our leaving will see more massive cuts in funding in this area. The European Commission’s Creative Europe programme had a budget of almost €1.5 billion from 2014 to 2020 – this will continue for the next seven years but as a non-EU country, the UK will need to negotiate to attempt to access some of that funding. The UK Government has not given any indication of its willingness to do so.
The EU has been responsible for developing and implementing some of the strongest employment rights
in the world. These include annual leave, agency workers rights, part-time workers rights, maternity, paternity and parental leave, and anti-discrimination legislation.
Now that we’re out, it is without doubt that significant numbers of unscrupulous employers in the UK will put pressure on the government to change or more likely, rip up, these rights. They will also be seeking to abolish the Working Time Regulations which limit the number of hours that people can be made to work. That pressure will find sympathetic ears in a right-wing Tory cabinet.
In the European Parliament on 29 January, MEPs voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement thereby making sure that the UK was leaving. Nigel Farage and his ugly band of Brexit MEPs stood up and waved union flags and left the chamber guffawing and opening bottles of sparkling wine. Every other MEP stayed in the chamber, joining hands, and singing Auld Lang Syne.
And so there we are. After 47 years of partnership, the UK is now out on its own. And make no mistake, those powdered egg munching, teary eyed nutcases who think that we are still a major player on the world stage couldn’t be more wrong.
We are now a very small country whose influence in the world has been reduced as a result of David Cameron caving in to a bunch of small-minded right-wing zealots, thereby unleashing a tirade of terrifyingly misplaced xenophobia and hatred which resulted in the death of Jo Cox on a street in West Yorkshire at the hands of a lunatic shouting “Britain first”.
Also, on 29 January, the Scottish Parliament voted to have another independence referendum with renewed membership of the EU to the fore in the debate.
Another future just might be possible.