Europe is reeling after Brexit. The Brits are at once incredulous and alarmed. Those on the continent started by laughing at us, but the smiles are fading and the panic rising as the fall-out continues. British PM David Cameron has abandoned his post, Brexiteer Boris Johnson has been made the UK’s highest ranking diplomat (?!), and no one knows how long new PM Theresa May will last or who her opposition is likely to be by the end of the year.
Whatever way people voted, everyone can agree Great Britain is a hot mess right now.
Not great news for all those Aussies who live there or the millions who travel there every year. It’s almost become a rite of passage for Aussies to finish their studies, or take some extended leave and head to the UK for a year or two to work. The readily accessible two-year working visa paves the way for them to take up whatever job they want to help pay for the extortionate rent and regular trips to the continent. They base themselves in beautiful, bustling London and spend all their spare time and money researching hotels with a view in Santorini, camp sites in rural France, Christmas markets in Copenhagen, gulets around the Turkish coastline and apres ski in the Alps.
But maybe not for much longer. While Aussies will still get to visit the UK just as easily, weekend getaways to Europe will become much harder to manage and involve pricey visa applications every time.
For those Aussies who base themselves in the UK but are expected to travel for work – they might find they are not quite so competitive. As one Australian concert singer I know put it, no European promoter is going to hire an Aussie based in the UK and deal with the cost and bother of a visa when they can hire an EU worker who can cross borders with ease.
And the cost of travelling overseas will hit both Aussies and Brits alike, who will have to contend for a much less valuable pound for the foreseeable future.
But, instead of having sour grapes, maybe we should be making lemonade?
The different relationship between the UK and Europe could give Australia and opportunity to build an even better relationship with the UK.
In 2011, the EU demanded that the UK cap the number of Australian working visas to 20,000 a year, arguing preference should be given to EU migrants. Alexander Downer, the British High Commissioner, has said he will take Brexit as an opportunity to renegotiate these “discriminatory” working visas – so it could become easier for Aussies to come to Britain in the future.
The newly appointed foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has already spoken at length about his desire for a “free labour mobility zone” between the two countries and is really keen for a smoother and better relationship.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already spoken with newly anointed British PM Theresa May about fast-tracking a free trade agreement with the UK which should be a great deal easier to negotiate than the planned EU trade deal. This is more awesome news for Australia, as the UK is Australia’s eighth largest two-way trading partner.
And, for those just looking for a holiday, let us not forget that with the pound plummeting at news of the vote and plenty of signs that the UK may be heading towards another slump, it’s actually a great time for a holiday! The dollar hasn’t had it so good against the pound for a long time, so now is the perfect opportunity to come and visit your UK friends (who moved here a year ago and now fear they may never be able to afford to move back… not that I’m talking about anyone in particular).
Maybe we should be putting our attic room on Airbnb?
What do you think about all this Brexit business? Has it directly impacted on you yet??
Ps. If you love Katelyn’s writing as much as we do, then check out her post on why she is totally cool with her son wearing dresses.