Brexit Night with the Merseyside Skeptics Society
On 21 February 2019, Merseyside Skeptics Society organized a ‘Brexit Night’, which featured members of the Migration Working Group – North West.
Ruxandra Trandafoiu (EHU Media) was invited to give a talk about ‘EU Migrants of the North West: Continuations and Disruptions in the Post-Brexit Era’, a project conceived and led by Dr Zana Vathi (EHU Social Sciences). Ruxandra spoke about the emerging results of the two-year project during which Zana and Ruxandra interviewed fifty EU nationals and key informants in Liverpool and Southport. Ruxandra explained what the EU nationals’ responses to the current political and media contexts had been, particularly in relation to perceived loss of rights, as well as the legal and psychological impacts of Brexit. She described the various forms of political engagement that EU nationals have embarked on in the aftermath of the EU membership referendum. She also detailed a number of issues that EU nationals see as particularly worrying: the hardening of anti-immigration attitudes in public discourse, the failure of the British political class to act rationally, bureaucratic harassment, uncertainties around free movement but also pension rights and property ownership, future difficulties linked to family reunification, and the vulnerable position of certain categories of EU citizens that Settled Status has failed to address.
The night was also attended by Prof. Michael Dougan (University of Liverpool), who spoke about the long-lasting negative impact of Brexit, in both political and legal terms. He analysed the ‘Leave’ campaign, pointing out that the campaigners used four main tactics: ‘lie’, ‘sell fantasies’, ‘abuse the opposition’ and ‘find scapegoats’. He deplored the dismantling of rational thinking and scientific values by the pro-Brexit campaign and pointed out that not playing by the rules and dismantling the rules leaves the UK particularly vulnerable, as the UK has no Constitution and therefore no constitutional protection.
Dr Sara Clement, a lecturer in environmental management at the University of Liverpool spoke about the future of environmental protection after Brexit, pointing out that Brexit poses a number of worries around new legislation, protection frameworks and quotas, but could also, in principle, provide an opportunity for improved environmental protection if future governments recognise its importance.
Dr Raphael Levy (University of Liverpool), a biochemist who has benefited from EU funding throughout his career, spoke about the importance of EU grants for research and innovation, but also bringing the best people together into networks and collaborative projects. He pointed out that the future of scientific research in the UK is jeopardized by Brexit.
Nicola Throp, who has spent almost a decade in the energy sector, working as an energy analyst for a utilities consultancy, spoke about the impact of Brexit on energy security. She said that the sector predicts a rise in energy costs, likely to be passed on to the consumer, due to additional administrative and infrastructure costs once the UK exists the common energy market. She explained that at the moment the UK is particularly vulnerable to the European energy context, as it has low storage capacities, fewer own resources and reduced nuclear energy capabilities. She explained that although energy will continue to be available, the Northern Irish grid is particularly vulnerable to supply problems and blackouts might result.
Overall, the experts on the night provided a number of clarifications and raised further questions about the likely impact of Brexit.
A link to the event website is available here: http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/2019/01/brexit-night-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-know/
Dr Ruxandra Trandafoiu is a Reader in Communication at Edge Hill University. Born in Romania, she has worked as a journalist, art critic and interpreter, and has studied and conducted research at Central European University, Università degli Studi di Roma ‘La Sapienza’, University of Edinburgh and Westminster University.