28 Oct, 2022 @ 17:16
2 mins read

Is Britain the Sick Man of Europe again?

Rishi Sunak AI art

FOREIGN nationals watching the UK’s political news could be forgiven for thinking that ‘Inglaterra’ changes its Prime Minister as frequently as some people change their sheets. 

The situation has aligned ‘Great’ Britain more with Mr Bean than a ‘serious international player’.

It wasn’t always this way. 

Before Brexit, Britain was seen as an open, multicultural, and forward-looking country – an attractive place for EU citizens to live and work. More ‘Cool Britannia’ than ‘Clown Show’.

After Brexit, Brits in Spain (who voted unanimously for Remain) were painfully aware that our home country was being perceived as a closed and isolationist nation. 

The Brexit vote in June 2016 had many of our Spanish friends asking: “Why are you committing political suicide?”

British politics - is Britain the sick man of Europe
Britain sees stormy times. Photo: Nick Fewings / Unsplash

And they had good reason to ask, as the Pound nosedived against the Euro, the trade deficit went stratospheric, the Garden of Kent turned into a giant lorry park and thousands of postal items disappeared into customs – never to be seen again.

Meanwhile, Brits visiting the EU from the UK are forced to queue for longer at airports, with non-residents having their passports stamped, they can only visit the bloc for 90 days out of 365, and their children can no longer study in Europe via the popular Erasmus scheme.

The decision by David Cameron, selfishly trying to protect his party, has led to five Prime Ministers in the last six years. The last one, Liz Truss, lasted just 44 days – something of a record in Europe.

This is compared to the previous five leaders holding office from 1976 to 2010 – a period of 36 years.

To recap: after Cameron’s quick resignation, Theresa May came and went, after promising to make the UK ‘strong and stable’. Her successor, Boris Johnson made a ‘Titanic success’ of both Brexit and his job, lying to Parliament, disobeying his own Covid rules, ignoring disciplinary committees and causing havoc with the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Truss had to go after further tanking the economy with her infamous ‘mini-budget’ and causing a fracas about fracking.

So, now we have No5 at the helm – Rishi Sunak, Britain’s much hyped ‘first Hindu prime minister’ and the richest ever occupant of No. 10 – another first. 

Wealthier than King Charles, Sunak is already in hot water about reinstating Home Secretary Suella Braverman, after she resigned over sending classified documents from her personal email address.

However, there are some advantages. Sunak is certainly more eloquent and statesmanlike than Truss and Johnson – hardly difficult – and he seems to have a basic grasp of economics.

Chipperjo Boris Johnson Dressed As A Clown Having His Passport2
The UK: a joke at passport control? Image: Jo Chipchase / Midjourney AI

Locally, expats are constantly asked: “What on earth is going on back home?”

Council employee, Lucy Hayes Logan, told the Olive Press that every councillor at Lanjaron Town Hall asked her about the current situation in the UK this week. “Sometimes, one person will ask, but never the whole team,” she said. 

Local Spaniard, Bernard Campo Campos, made a good point: “At least the English accept their mistakes and resign. In Spain, even if they are caught stealing, they don’t resign, deny everything, and the law allows them to keep what they have stolen.”

So, how long before Sunak falls on this sword, leading to a general election… and, who knows, would a Labour government under Kier Starmer take a different approach to Europe and end all this mess?

Answers on a postcard to [email protected]


Spain’s view of the UK’s political turmoil
Gibraltar leader welcomes Cleverly and Raab on Sunak’s new UK government

Jo Chipchase

Jo Chipchase freelanced for internet and lifestyle publications in the UK, and for Living Spain magazine, and was co-founder of Press Dispensary. She lives in the Alpujarra mountains of Andalucia with her teenage sons, dogs and a horse. Contact [email protected]

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