Office for National Statistics figures obtained by Mr de Bois show that in the ten years to 2011, a total of 3,599,000 people permanently left the UK.
Contrary to the perception of the typical emigrants being older people retiring to a life in the sun, the figures show that 1,963,000 of those who left were aged between 25 and 44.
By contrast, only 125,000 people of retirement age emigrated.
Quite seriously impressive numbers actually.
Research for the Home Office last year found that almost half of all Britons who emigrate each year are professionals and company managers.
So that report by the Work Foundation insisting that there is no international market for British management looks a little thin then.
So why are so many sodding off?
I’m sure the weather has something to do with it. Ditto the tax system.
I originally left for work reasons. Moved again for same. Came back for a little bit and found, well, not that I had left Britain but that to some extent Britain had left me. That happens when you’ve been off for a decade or so. So I left again.
And everywhere does indeed have the same sort of intrusive government that we all complain about. But there is a difference out here. In much of the world (at least, in many of the places I’ve lived) both sides, both governors and governed, know that this is an imposition. That the description of government as stationary bandits is true at least in part.
Thus there’s a wariness about being too serious about the rules, about those impertinent demands. In both the US and the UK I’ve found it different. Those imposing the rules really do think they are defending civilisation from the hordes that would destroy it. As an example, for complex reasons my flat in Bath was declared an HMO. I can just about, just, get the points about kitchen doors therefore having to be fire doors. It’s a standard Bath Georgian, one flat to a floor. If three of five are owner occupied it’s not an HMO, if three are rented it is. Odd that owner occupiers are free to burn to death in a way that tenants are not but there we go. The perils of national legislation: they had to abandon the idea of providing fire exists when whole streets are, front and back, Grade II* listed.
But I really did fail to see why the law insisted that there must be 1.5 m2 of preparation space in the galley kitchen. And whether this was legally necessary or not depended on how many other flats in the building were rented or not. And what I found worst was that everyone was dead serious about enforcing this. To the point that there were demands that I should redo the entire kitchen or the whole house would be declared unfit for human habitation.
The Men With Clipboards.
In Portugal the same sort of building regs. In this case it was about having converted a door into a window. A quick chat around the back and a flash of a brown envelope and we were done. We both knew that the laws had no real meaning at all, that they were really an excuse for a rent to be demanded.
Is this corruption? Sure. Am I happy with corruption? Nope, not at all. But, all in all, I do have to say that I prefer it to an army of people seriously trying to enforce the millions of rules and regulations that plague us all.
It’s actually that most admirable of British (perhaps English?) characteristics. We do take the law seriously. The deal has always been that there will be few of them but we’ll obey them. But for me that deal breaks when there’s so damn many laws. In the end I prefer living where one can and does scoff at most of them, while still obeying the important ones. There are parts of the world where, keeping your head down of course, not being too obvious about it, you can just get on with life without having to bow repeatedly to Those Men With Clipboards. Something that I don’t quite see as being true in England any more.
Yes, weather, taxes, cost of living, work, all have an influence. I simply couldn’t do what I’m now doing in Czech in the UK for example: the geology is wrong. But over and above that, and it’s close to absurd to put it this way, there’s a sense of being freer now outside England than inside it.
Another very odd way of putting it. By living outside England I’m able to live rather like it used to be possible to live in England. Sure, they demand permits and licenses and permissions: but nothing very much happens if you don’t knuckle under. Which brings me back to I’m not sure that I did leave England. I’m almost carrying a little bubble of it around with me as I go. I’ll obey (and do) the important laws and the others, well, they don’t really exist do they, as they didn’t used to. It’s England that left me.
I’ve had the same conversation with both German and Czech engineers about mining law. Sure, you need a license to go mining. But the terms of those licences are interpreted expansively. Even the bureaucracy agrees that if something is even vaguely permissible, just possible to squeeze into the strictures, then you can do it. I just don’t think that English rules and regs are treated that way. Rather the opposite, if it’s even vaguely possible that it isn’t allowed then it’s verboten.