Day 25 Lockdown blog. 17/04/2020

BRAVE NEW WORLD. Acrylic on Canvas. 20 x 20 x 3.7 cm 2010Image: Brave New World. Acrylic on Canvas. 2010. Private Collection USA.


Given the current crisis Brexit now seems a far off problem with little relevance, but slowly and surely the wisdom of reducing our already limited free movement, together our separation from Europe is increasingly called into question. The earning limit of those who can enter the country after Brexit is currently set at around 24K p-a for those classified as ‘skilled workers’. This is far below the wages of the majority of ‘key workers’, often foreign nationals, who have kept our vital service industries and the N.H.S. going for years. Supermarket worker averages about 11K p-a and a care home worker about 12K p-a , refuse collectors, N.H.S. nurses and even trainee teachers are in similar low wage brackets. Seasonal fruit pickers are even less and yesterday a plane load of pickers was flown in from Romania which has lifted restrictions just to keep us supplied with fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.  For years the UK has used ethnic minorities as the unrecognised underclass, a part of the low paid backbone of this country with little or no remuneration forthcoming for the important jobs they do.  The insult was compounded by the governments own definition of these jobs as ‘low skilled’, and some can not forget when this government voted not to increase the pay of care workers in a commons motion. The idea that Brexit can increase our standing in the world or our prosperity is clearly a groundless fallacy. The pandemic has highlighted the need to support our key workers, be they foreign or English nationals. This global pandemic may make the current government wake up to reality and realise that major social and economic changes must be made, and encourage them towards as liberal a position in Brexit negotiations as possible. John Dunn wrote that man is not an Island, and despite the contradiction, neither is Britain.


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