And now for something that has affected me personally quite a lot this past week. How much difference a summer can make! As many non-British academics, I was attracted to the UK by the openness of its society, the dynamics of its economy and international character of London. I have not been disappointed so far. Unlike in other countries, there has been no shyness at the Bank of England, the UK Government or Parliament to collect as many views as possible, no matter the nationality of the interlocutors. This seems to have changed dramatically over the past few days.
First, there was the new Prime Minister branding us expats as international elite without roots. Yes, I have left my home country 21 years ago and have lived in the U.S., Netherlands and the UK. My wife has lived outside her own country for the past 19 years. And my children (adopted from Latin America and Asia) never lived in Germany, the country of their passport. So, in this sense we consider ourselves citizens of the world, and proudly so! But: we have paid all taxes that were due wherever we lived. We have tried to integrate into and contribute to our host communities as much as possible. It is quite depressing to be suddenly treated as unwelcome outcast!
Then the call by the Home Secretary for British businesses to hire more British and announce how many non-British staff are being employed. My head of faculty is Italian and my dean American and the international character (with the accompanying wealth of experiences) of Cass’ faculty makes it such an appealing place to work for us academics and for students to study!
And finally the announcement that the UK government will not interact anymore with non-British academics on issues related to Brexit (which will become a dominating issue over the next years). One of the promising factors in the dialogue between policy makers on all levels and academics over the past eight years of crisis management in Europe was the fact that no one ever asked for the nationality of the academic giving his or her opinion and advice. Behind this new approach of the British government seems a new attitude against the "enemy inside” that has to be outed and isolated so (s)he cannot do any damage.
What sad days! As I wrote previously, the Brexit vote can be seen as one step towards bringing to an end a long wave of globalisation. The events of this past week can be interpreted as rapid march towards nationalism and protectionism!
9. Oct, 2016