When I was a young person in the UK in the 60s, the so called “brain drain,” the loss of educated folks, particularly to North America, was a constant source of anxiety and debate. Inevitably, the topic pops up again periodically, often in the context of the internal tax debate.
But now, the question is whether a “Brexited” UK, maybe even without Scotland too, would become a less attractive place to stay for a new generation. My very strong instinct is yes. Its not just the practicality of the options available in the future to an EU citizen, with the ability to move in an area of a quarter of a billion people even after the exit, versus those likely to be available to an English/Welsh/NI citizen. More importantly, the basic choice of insularity versus looking outward will have been made, and the message to the restless will be clear: “This is a smaller country, determined to get smaller.” Not the way to ensure faith in the future, particularly those for those who chafe under remainders and reminders of caste and class.
All the ex-pats from the UK I have talked to recently, from a wide age range, are literally unable to understand how Brexit could be a serious question, currently polling close.
A recent article in the Guardian reports research showing that almost half of thos who applied to, or contacted UK universities said that a Brexit would make the UK a less attractive place to study. Moreover, non-UK students did far better both in and after university than their UK classmates. Hardly surprising, the voluntarily mobile are usually the risk-takers and achievers, as any student of immigration patterns will tell you. For an academic who has spent his life studying the economic of such movements, see here.
It is hard to imagine the pro-leave forces being impacted by this analysis, but that’s the point.