The infamous cloudy climate of Britain is not the only one the citizens have to whether this approaching winter. People in the United Kingdom have huge challenges in their way in possibly what could be called the worst period in England. I was driven on the streets of Windsor in Berkshire by Michael Peters, a driver, and cook who has been on the job for 34 years. He was not very hopeful about the new Prime Minister (Liz Truss) and her new policies. With frequent changes in Prime Ministers in the last decade, the citizens are looking out for that one leader who could take them out of the woods. Liz Truss, the tax changes of Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, and the mini-budget disaster of £45 billion of debt-funded tax have added to the woes of the British public.The intervention of the Bank of England and the rapidly falling Pound has only added to the skepticism on the ground.
If the war in Ukraine is impacting a country like India in the import of certain products, one can imagine the effects of the war in closer United Kingdom. The approaching winter and the soaring energy bills are high on the minds of the British public. While the EU & UK are participating in furious meetings to contain the rising inflation and fuel bills, there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet.
While many countries have announced measures to curb the cost of energy for households, the long-term impact of the never-ending war in Ukraine is yet to be evaluated. Liz Truss had sent an olive branch to French President Macron to join a fresh regional grouping to send mend UK relations with the rest of Europe post Brexit. Energy and fuel are top of the mind of the political leadership in the UK on the purported sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines by Russia. Traces of winter have already begun and the UK is already shivering in the cold of burgeoning energy bills. The luxurious Airbnb apartment I was staying in cautioned me against using too much electricity since the bills have risen to an unprecedented level.
Pakistani taxi driver Abdulaziz Qureshi who migrated to London in 1982, drove me to Western London says it is the worst period for the United Kingdom as a country and the future is uncertain.
Yet he says the UK is still better than going back to Pakistan which is a country in shambles. But his concerns remain about the future and the dodgy leadership in the country and the impact on migrants like him. With the highest ever inflation numbers, each citizen is bearing the heat of downtime. Fuel prices are top of his mind and hope to see a rebound soon.
Receptionist Brigita Warrior has informed her office of her inability to come to the office in Central London due to the announced and publicized transport strikes in October 2022. The unexpected demise of the Queen has held transport Unions to call a strike to ground the well-connected underground railway systems on 1st, 5th, and 8th October 2022 respectively on wages. The UK and the rest of Europe are famous for the flash and well-informed strikes which impacts Londoners and people traveling long distances in the UK. The shield to protect essential services in the UK has never been taken seriously which encourages anyone aggrieved to strike at will.
Stock market analyst John Simsons is shocked at the spiraling UK economy. In the distraction of the appointment of the new King and new Prime Minister, India, a former colony of the United Kingdom has taken over as the 5th largest economy, alarm bells are ringing all over the UK Government of its losing position in global trade and commerce. The UK has not sprung back from Covid-19 and its economy seems to be shrinking post the pandemic. The markets have reacted very sharply to the poor serving of the budget by the new Government which since has spent hours defending the tax cuts and borrowings. John feels it could be the start of the end of the mighty British empire which once was the richest nation in the world controlling large swathes of the global economy. Today as a developed country the UK struggles like an emerging economy, and it has sent world markets into a shock, strengthening the US Dollar further.
Hordes of students join the universities in the UK from India for better educational prospects but the future and a career in the UK seem to be riddled with risks. Vivek Sharma who has joined a University in Birmingham to pursue his MBA is worried about the job market a year from now when he graduates. With an unstable economy, lack of vision, and downtime in the UK, students are at their wit’s end hoping for the clouds of uncertainty to evaporate. Students pursuing studies outside London are a worried lot as job prospects are dwindling in the countryside. Moving to the USA or Canada are real options open to be examined by the students.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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