Thursday, 9 January 2020

Why Boris Johnson is wrong to withdraw the UK from the ERASMUS scheme

It didn't take long for the regime of Boris Johnson to show just how wrong headed and stupid it is. Yesterday the government blocked a motion that called for continuing participation in the ERASMUS scheme to be a priority in the UK's Brexit negotiations. The scheme allows members of participating nations to study in other countries in the scheme, encouraging student exchanges and mobility. I know all about the scheme as my daughter spent a year studying in Italy as part of the programme.

Whatever you think of Brexit, ditching ERASMUS is nothing to do with the concept of leaving the EU. The programme is clearly good for our students and it is also good for our educational establishments. The UK has some of the worlds leading Universities and colleges and these make a lot of money from the ERASMUS programme. I don't think that anyone voted to restrict the opportunities of British young people or to damage our educational sector. The sane and rational way to approach any business negotiation is to work out areas of mutual benefit and ensure that these are not damaged. My guess is that around 80% of the benefits we receive from the EU membership could easily be agreed as the basis for a new trade agreement. Of course there is the 20% that is more difficult and complicated, but surely sowing up a deal on the things which are clearly positive and beneficial should be the top priority. No one wants to see a scaling back on things like co-operation on terrorism and crime. No one wants to return to tourists needing to buy Visa's to travel to Spain, etc for holidays. Negotiating by holding a gun to one's own head is ridiculous. The things which seemed to me to be of concern to the UK voters were issues such as Brussels making law for the UK. People also wanted the UK to be able to negotiate  trade deals and the biggest of these will be with the EU, but that is nothing to do with education. Why the Conservative party have decided that the ERASMUS scheme is not a priority is beyond me. Boris said that it is time for us to come together and get Brexit done. The only way he'll achieve this aspiration is to make the case for keeping the relationships with the EU that benefit us. We always hear about the 52%, but only 37% voted for Brexit. 35% voted to remain and 28% didn't cast a vote at all. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to see that the country really was not sure. I don't blame those that didn't vote, many knew both sides were lying.

Boris Johnson has a large parliamentary majority and the opportunity to force whatever he likes through Parliament. Pushing things through that are bad for our young people is not a great way to send the message that he wants to bring us together. I urge Boris to think again and start reaching out to those who didn't back him, to say "look, I am serious about doing a good deal for everyone". Things like this affect young people, who largely gave Boris a wide berth at the election. It seems like Boris is not too bothered about trying to get them on the Boris bus.

No comments: