The UK’s departure of the European Union means many things to many different people. To some it can be described as a victory, to others a betrayal. Some see the vote as democratic, while others feel the population were woefully under- and misinformed in the run up to the referendum. To me, the politics are of relatively little importance, but I see Brexit’s defining characteristic as that of uncertainty.
If you had asked me even just a year ago where my future lied, I would have said in Europe. While the UK has many jobs in the space industry, and plans to expand its part of the global sector greatly over the coming years, I see Europe as having many more opportunities for career growth and gaining valuable life experiences such as learning about other cultures.
In the months and years since the referendum though, I have witnessed the deterioration of the country I call home. Such a divisive result, with 52% of voters choosing Leave and 48% voting Remain, was always bound to cause splits across political parties and between sections of society. But the constant tussle between the two sides has overshadowed everything else. Not a day goes past without hearing or seeing mention of Brexit on the news or social media.
And the problem isn’t just that Brexit has become a hugely dominant issue for the UK. The split across and between the parties that govern our country has also caused a great deal of uncertainty about what final form our departure will even take. The questions that remain about customs unions, Ireland, free movement and more have dragged negotiations on and on to the point that many see little chance of a deal being reached before March 2019. The exact results of a no deal Brexit are still unclear, but it is certain that a great many systems across our economy and way of life would be affected.
So with the UK in such a state, why do I not simply seek out a life in Europe, as was my plan a year or so ago? The problem lies in the attitude among Europeans that the referendum result and slow negotiations seem to have triggered. While I’m certainly not surprised that some seem to see the UK as foolish and excessively patriotic for voting to leave, it is not a stereotype I wish to have applied to myself. During my recent interactions with Europeans, Brexit has been a common topic of conversation, with many often quick to ask our reasoning or wondering which way I voted.
With the UK taking such a big leap, these questions are to an extent understandable, but not every Briton wants to be painted with the brush of Brexit. We are more than just a cross placed on a ballot paper one day in June 2016. Each of us has particular skills and interests that could be valuable in any country around the world, yet I at least feel like if I were to go to Europe, I would increasingly be seen as an outsider. With even the President of the European Council mocking the Brexit negotiations on Instagram, it seems like many Europeans have lost their respect for the UK.
If the UK is in a mess and Europe seems increasingly hostile, what is needed is an escape to elsewhere. This is where Canada comes into play. Its election of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, before countries around the world such as the US and UK took more right wing stances in elections, has led many to see Canada as a country of hope and opportunity. It is far more welcoming to immigrants than its neighbour to the south, and while it will undoubtedly have issues of its own, as any country does, it is not entangled in the complicated negotiations and turmoil of Brexit.
My plan for the future then is increasingly evolving towards moving to Canada after I graduate with a Master’s in 2020. The Express Entry programme should enable me to speed up the process of gaining permanent residency, leveraging my engineering knowledge and skills to jump ahead in the queue. While housing in Canada can be very expensive, the low overall population density and sheer size of the country should mean I have plenty of options. The Canadian Space Agency is well developed, having worked independently and with partners for nearly three decades, and the Canadian space industry as a whole offers several different branches that I can explore.
Canada is also well known for its stunning scenery and relaxed lifestyle, so leisure activities should be plentiful, with many chances to try new hobbies. The French culture and Canada’s diverse society will mean that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn about and experience new way of life, much like I could in Europe. The First Nations and Inuit populations will also add an interesting element to this that Europe cannot offer.
With turmoil and uncertainty in the UK and across Europe arising from Brexit, Canada offers a welcoming and supportive way of life that contrasts against the difficulties I am increasingly expecting back home. Perhaps then, in the years to come, I will start a life in Canada, embracing its opportunities to make the most of what I can be.