back to article Brexit? Cutting the old-school ties would do more for Brit tech world

In the early 2000s the United Kingdom was the powerhouse of European science and innovation. For many young, aspiring scientists from continental Europe, this meant coming here to world-leading institutes and universities to pursue research not possible in the constraints of their home countries. In comparison to, especially, …


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Contrast

      Having seen some of their previous stunts, those idiots at Trollstation finally got what they deserved.

  1. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Speaking of Empire. Something that I’ve never quite understood: How do you justify colonising from Cape to Cairo?

    Well, in pretty much the same way that the French, Germans, Belgians, Portuguese, Spanish, Italians and Russians do I suppose - no point crying that our distant ancestors were better at it than yours. How do you justify German {East,West,South West} Africa, or the Herero genocide?

    1. smartypants

      These Empire comments... this article were a very bad decision. Many people like me who want us to remain in the EU are still concerned with the huge net inward migration imbalance and the impact it has on just about everything, and it's hard to be smug when people in their 20s are having to borrow £150 grand for a poxy one bedroom flat.

      Free movement is great in principle when all the countries have a reasonably level playing field. The free movement of people, goods and services was captured for the first time as an agreement in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, signed by Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany. You could argue that Italy was a bit borderline, but you could see how in principle free movement of people wasn't a big challenge to any of them, and it turned out not to be the case in practice. And you could argue that if you added just the UK to that list of nations today, the migration issue wouldn't exist.

      But now the EU has profound differences in conditions, earnings and so on between certain member states, and Britain and a handful of other nations find themselves struggling with net inward migration whilst others suffer from a continual drain of talented people.

      In principle, I can see how it might stabilise as prices rise in the countries who have joined more recently as they develop, but this process might take decades, and in the meantime the EU seems to be following the lead of the Eurovision song contest in not being able to say no to an ever wider definition of what Europe is.

      So to make out that people with these concerns simply have some sort of love of an Empire seems very silly and pointless.

  2. Alexander J. Martin

    I’ve seen this trajectory a few times: Applicants from non-Oxbridge universities are not even looked at for influential posts in the City; to get into Oxford and Cambridge, you need to have money and the ability to speak and handwave in a very articulate way (these essay and interview questions mostly seem to test the level of sophistication, rarely an aptitude for the subject); and to learn these essential skills, you better had training from an expensive school and come from the right family background.

    Anecdotal rubbish, frankly.

    Disclosure: Cambridge graduate. Lived in a council flat.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      I'll be honest, I'm a lazy b*****d, and the amount of work involved in applying to Oxford or Cambridge put me off.

      However, you cannot deny the following.

      * The application process is intense.

      * It is also quite different to applying to any other UK university.

      * You are more likely to have teachers who graduated Oxbridge in a private school than a state school.

      * Those who have graduated Oxbridge are more likely to understand the application process, and will be more helpful to those applying.

      This does, intrinsically, give those who had a private education a greater chance of gaining entry to Oxbridge.

    2. ZSn

      Since Cambridge types obviously repeat themselves so will I:

      You'll find that you are speaking rubbish there:

      I've been to three universities, one of them Oxford, my wife went to a foreign university and then Cambridge and so I've also lived in Cambridge university accommodation. I was also brought up in a council flat so I feel I'm uniquely suited to answer your post. And the reply is that you are speaking specious bollocks. Some colleges are for the hoi polloi such as ourselves, however some colleges seem to be heavily populated by children of previous graduates of dubious ability (e.g., Christchurch, Oxford, and Magdalene, Cambridge). Remind me, how did Prince Edward get into Cambridge with his grades? And if you were in Cambridge perhaps you heard just how he managed to pass his exams with so little work, and quite what he got up to there?

  3. ntevanza

    Vote to Keep Europe British

    To get back to the article, classism is indeed alive and well in Britain. Each country tends to choose a unique subset of the available methods of shooting oneself in the foot.

    A word to the wise: your current leadership is reloading to have another go.

    Accusations of mindless conformity are, however, wide of the mark. Britons, for whatever reason, don't like to be told what to do. You will be shocked to learn that in otherwise civilized European nations, eccentricity is frowned upon. In Germany, conformity is openly considered a social grace.

    This has got Europe into trouble before. Paradoxically, Oxbridge is a reservoir of individualism that habitually infects the rest of the population. Yet it is also a giant hydraulic disk brake on the wheel of social mobility. Whether this is a contingent or an ipso facto relationship, I leave to your philosophically adept readership.

    Monty Python came from Cambridge, and Monty Python is one reason why there will never be a British Hitler. Choose rum, you get raisin.

    So for pity's sake, vote to keep Europe British.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Vote to Keep Europe British

      Accusations of mindless conformity are, however, wide of the mark. Britons, for whatever reason, don't like to be told what to do.

      However, our reactions tend to be more understated than other countries, and often passive-aggressive. Look at a recent protest of bikers against something (I really can't remember what, maybe fuel prices or something...) - They took to the motorway, formed up accross it, and drove slowly. In a country like, say, France, there would have been outright demonstrations, blockades etc. We just react differently, often in a more subtle way, which to an outsider looks like acceptance.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Behold we should all taken note "An Oxbridge scholar speaks".

    Behold we should all taken note "An Oxbridge scholar speaks".

    See you later Boris, goodbye, hope you enjoyed your stint as a research fellow, and I very much hope you enjoyed punting in Cambridge. I know you'll be back, I know so many moaning Europeans who have gone back to France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Belgium or whereever. Soon enough, they are all straight back here. Can't wait for you to end up coming back which you will. I hope you show some humility on your return while you eat your words.

  5. Dbailey


    I logged into The Register today to get the latest tech news but instead I get this Xenophobic/racist rant. You would never get away with saying these things about other countries. Standards obviously slipping at The Register!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. heyrick Silver badge

    Inbred obedience?

    Not really. Just a different attitude to life (relax and put the kettle on - can you imagine a southern European doing that?) mixed in with a huge huge helping of utter apathy.

    I fear that the In or Out vote won't be decided by those who go and vote, but rather by those who just don't bother. After all, isn't it about time to put the kettle on....?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Inbred obedience?

      I have a shiny EU kettle. If I put it on to boil now, I might just get a cup of tea before I need to get out to go to the polling station in 23 days.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Oh gosh how stunningly clever and original.

    The usual European faux-superiority, the usual standard left-wing opinions on everything, and the usual implication that if you didn't like us, we didn't like you, and you couldn't work out how the place works then it's somehow all our fault?

    Come back when you've learned some manners - or better, don't.

  9. John Lilburne Silver badge

    Much of the BREXIT arguments ...

    ... are bogus. Various governments over the years have had opportunities to opt-out of EU regulations. The ones they have opted out of are all concerned with removing rights from the people of this country granted by the EU. They don't want to opt out to give us more right they want to opt out to take more rights away.

    I'm told that we have a load of people from Poland (whenever I hear it it seems to be similar to the old Windies/Indian Sub-Continent racism of old) that are taking jobs and depressing wages, in low paid jobs such as care. Seems to me that the wages in these jobs are mainly depressed because successive Tory governments have reduced the grants to Local Government, made it easier to sack people, and allowed zero hour contracts. Same thing has happened with the NHS.

    I gather that many of the Brexiters also want to renege on the European Convention on Human Rights. We are supposed to believe that these self same people are going to be looking to improve rights in this country.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Much of the BREXIT arguments ...

      "I gather that many of the Brexiters also want to renege on the European Convention on Human Rights. We are supposed to believe that these self same people are going to be looking to improve rights in this country."

      When you consider that even Russia is a signatory, and the rights it actually covers, leaving the ECHR would put us in the same company as various rogue states we probably wouldn't want to be compared with.

      We don't have a proper (recent) Bill of Rights in the UK which is why the UK Government has been rushing to create one for when they leave the ECHR, unfortunately it's been uphill work, which makes you wonder which of these rights they are so against keeping:

  10. Jeff 8

    Missing the point

    I think a lot of people who want out of Europe are not thinking about the economy and more about the social/cultural problems that are present in British society. Likewise those that want to stay in Europe are only thinking about the Economical benefits of Europe and are not taking into account the social impact that being in Europe brings.

    Those that want out are seeing the impact it has on their lives from a social perspective. Those that want to stay in are happy with the current state and welcome the security/stability being in Europe offers.

    As someone that grew up in Essex throughout my childhood, I had such amazing community experiences. I remember carnivals where the whole estate would get together to watch, and there wasn't as big as a worry of crime. Havering growing up was the safest London Borough. It's still a great place to live, but I now live in America and each year I go back to see my family I see the town of old gradually disappearing. Maybe you could attribute this to me now living in a different culture. But I see now the number of different languages being spoken in my home town and I can't help but think that those from different cultures have struggled to integrate into regular society and divides are now created. Those of wealth that wish to stay in are probably affluent enough that they don't see this social divide, so life in that respect is no different. Adapting to your host nations culture is the biggest problem for Europe, and in most cases I feel it is ignored.

    The writer of this article sounds bitter to me. If his not happy then I think everyone in the country that is happy is glad you are leaving.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point

      "I remember carnivals where the whole estate would get together to watch, and there wasn't as big as a worry of crime"

      Perception is not reality.

      Statistically we are safer than we've ever been at any point in history, even with recent minor rises in crime figures.

      That makes any form of crime newsworthy which in turn means that people think crime levels are higher. They're not, they're just better reported.

      I lived in the countryside as a kid in some very isolated areas. The reason we didn't bother locking doors was that anyone wanting to break in would do so anyway and as well as a turned-over house you'd also have a smashed doorframe or windows. If the place wasn't locked they usually didn't bother making a mess and just went for cash or easily sellable items.

    2. Mutton Jeff

      Re: Missing the point

      Just goes to show, nostalgia a'int what it used to be.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boris ? Bare Chested?

    You now owe me for a few months' counselling for PTSD.

    I can't get that image of a bare-chested Boris out of my head.

    Boris Johnson, that is.

  12. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Boris: remember, 28 not 31

    No need for me to add to all the other arguments, but I note Boris forgot the EU has 28 members, not 31. We should thank him for his error, since he's unknowingly pointed out membership of the EU is not required for the Horizon programme on which he sets so much cachet :-)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TL;DR version; Yet another butthurt expat rant

    This rant is stunningly similar to the type of rants that expats write when they are butthurt that where ever they emigrated to didn't treat them like a the best thing since sliced bread. "They're all racists, 300 or so years ago they did this and that, their way of thinking isn't right[1]"

    If it was so bad why did you hang around for so long? Bugger off and don't come back.

    [1] because it's different to my way of thinking, which is automatically the best way of thinking.

  14. Dr. Cogniscient

    Bye, bye...

    ...and don't let the door hit you on the arse as you leave.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully Brexit...

    * The UK isn't interested in the European project (practical reason)...

    * Its best for Britain, especially if the UK overtakes Germany to become #1 economy (economic reason)...

    * I want Ireland out of CTA and into Schengen, which will never happen unless the UK breaks away (personal reason).

    * But it wont happen. There's too many negative campaigns warning of a looming holocaust. Just like the Scottish vote there is interest, but its not enough versus people's 'fear of change'...

    1. T_o_u_f_ma_n

      Re: Hopefully Brexit...

      >* I want Ireland out of CTA and into Schengen, which will never happen unless the UK breaks away

      > (personal reason).

      Sure why not. Could we have that bit of the north of the island back then since you're done with it ?

      Thanks a mill'

      Lee Prechaun

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hopefully Brexit...

      "* Its best for Britain, especially if the UK overtakes Germany to become #1 economy (economic reason)..."

      Lmfao, in your dreams, that's like a weekend football team attempting to win the FA Cup

      Selling inflated property as a vehicle for laundering the proceeds of overseas organised crime does not an economy make, and in case you hadn't noticed Thatcher and her successors have either destroyed or sold most of the viable industry we had.

      We almost didn't have a steel industry recently.

      Before you start making wild claims about our potential performance compared to other modern industrialised countries maybe you should work in somewhere like Germany, and then you'll realise that they support their industries and actually have management who tend to have come up through the ranks, and actually have a clue about what they are managing as opposed to the useless prats UK management seems to generate.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Hopefully Brexit...

        "* Its best for Britain, especially if the UK overtakes Germany to become #1 economy (economic reason)..."

        Lmfao, in your dreams, that's like a weekend football team attempting to win the FA Cup

        No more like England beating Germany in the World Cup... it happened once in the (now) distant past...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At first I liked this article, but then I saw IoT...

    IoT consultant, IoT funding??? Damn you to hell sir!

    Take your connected fridge & car and fuck off back to Europe!

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In Britain I think you underestimate the value of muddling through. The importance of 'reasonable' when judging actions. The collective sense that the law comes from the people and is established and evolves over time with the implicit sense that it can be justifiable to break a law imposed on you without your say (eg poll tax) or for the law itself to be judged wrong because of common sense or changing mores. This all looks quite haphazard from outside, but it's a pretty robust way of building a society of consent among competing ideas, deciding what is right or wrong (fair) based on principles rather than the letter of the law and managing all the difficult edge cases.

    The European view is much more theoretical (Descartian) and code based (Napoleon). The law is logic and every action needs a law to define it. Society needs to be planned an ordered by the best logicians. Since these people are the best, and they are logical there can be no question that they are right. If there is no law then it must be created and overseen. If in doubt, the law is right. To prevent illegal (and illogical) action all actions must be documented so that if there is ever a mistake, the mistake must be tracked to its source and the illogicality removed. There is nothing that cannot be solved with just another piece of paper and top logical minds.

  18. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "Britiain" didn't colonise a quarter of the world, British /people/ did. Those British possessions ranged between pinprick coaling stations to support passing trade ships, merchant adventurers kinging it up over locals, farmers wanting land, miners wanting minerals and loads of others. Aftter the initial North American adventure, most of the imperial expansion was oddballs wandering across somebody's land and sticking up a Union flag, to the consternation of the mandarins back in Whitehall.

    The Spanish Empire was a comparable size, and that /was/ directed by state dictat, as was the even bigger Russian empire.

  19. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    Go. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh look, a German that's much more at home with an anti-democratic, sovereignty-stealing superstate

    Whoever would have guessed it!

    PS To any Brits that still think democracy matters, this is a must-sign petition:


  21. Dr. Rude
    Thumb Down

    You want OUT? You stay OUT!

    For everyone thinking (Like Boris Johnson) they can 're-join' the EU if they realise 'independence' is not such a good idea after all:

    Any member will be able to VETO and block your re-admission. Therefore:

    1. Britain will have to BEG and make a lot of concessions to Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia etc. Have you ever heard the expression 'it's payback time'? well, you'll feel what it means. Oh, yes, you will...

    2. France and Germany will not humiliate Britain but they will absolutely ask for the adoption of Euro. Nothing personal, just business. Good bye, British Pound! Britain was treated like a spoiled child with special rights for too long. No more special treatments for deserters. You don't like it? Nobody invited you in again. The door is open!

    3. 'Opt-out' rights from the ever-closer Union'? Hahahaha :) I have a better idea: stay out! EU does not need unreliable nations who can't decide what they want, and change their minds every 5 years. Brexit already caused financial losses to EU once - they will want to make sure it will not happen again.

    Even so, I would probably vote against Britain re-joining the club. People should learn that actions have consequences. British people should have the guts to face the consequences of their decisions.

    Once out, forever out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You want OUT? You stay OUT!

      Everything you say could come to pass, but the truth is that Britain's special deal with the EU (rebate, outside the Eurozone, opt-out for ever closer union etc.) is not going to remain in place forever should we vote to stay in.

      In fact, the political pressure from the other member states to abolish such perks will simply increase post-remain since they'll know that the threat to leave was an empty one. The EU is only moving in one direction and, should we stay, we will be swept along whether we like it or not.

      If I join a club I want to be a fully participating member. I don't want to be seen as special and awkward which is how Britain is perceived on the continent. Unfortunately, this particular club has terms under which full participation are completely unacceptable. Did you know, for example, that France, one of the richest member states, would be a net beneficiary of EU funding, due to its sizeable agriculture subsidies, if it were not for the British rebate?

      1. Dr. Rude

        Re: You want OUT? You stay OUT!

        If 51% of the British people feel like you and believe that the 'European club' rules are unacceptable, then by all means it would be a mistake to stay. I completely agree.

        I merely stated that leaving and hoping you'll be able to come back it's childish and never gonna happen. Not after

        - producing massive financial losses to your partners,

        - labeling hard working taxpayers as 'undesirable immigrants' and forcing them to leave the homes they built here (by the way, that's exactly what happened in Germany in 1936-1939 and in my opinion, is completely disgusting).

        I was always about business and profit - that's why I agree with Brussels being incredibly bureaucratic and wasting loads of money. Of course they need reforming.

        BUT I could never understand racism and nationalism. They are so anti-business. And let's face it - most Brexiters are driven by nationalism and anti-immigration feelings. That's why they don't care about Osborne and Cameron's economic arguments. It's strange, it's like there are two completely different Britains. It's the same in Germany and France.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: You want OUT? You stay OUT!

      This is a strong argument for not hastily exiting.

      Why leave on what is basically, in political terms, a whim?

      The whole process has been bizarrely whimsical.

      A panic whipped up by tabloid media based on imagined worst case scenarios.

      I always imagined the Brits to be far more level-headed.

  22. Snowy

    One point

    [Quote]By the way, people fleeing from war are commonly referred to as ‘refugees’. Migrant is an economic term. That’s something your media should learn as well. But I’m digressing.[/quote]

    I thought that you had to apply for asylum in the first country you got to not "flee" half way around the world looking for a place you like, at what point do they stop being refugees and become migrants when they travel so far across safe counties?

    Quite a lot of the immigration problem can be put at Angela Merkel's door with her come to German speech she did a couple of years ago. The question is why did she do such a dumb thing as think only a few would come, a bit like having an open house party (parents away) and inviting everyone on Facebook then expecting the house to not to get wrecked!

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Re: One point

      This guys in Calais are almost exclusively from the Horn of Africa. The lessons in migration the EU is going to have to learn the very hard way is exactly the problem here. The are absolutely, without doubt, mostly migrants in the economic sense not refugees in the my country has a war sense. Merkel made sure of that even to the extent it was true at one point; I hear it's working out well.

  23. streaky Silver badge


    I assume this is another article that's supposed to be ironic and just comes across as dumb and missing the mark on every single issue?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of rubbish

    Self pitiful attention seeking. You have it all soooo so wrong. A failed point of view.

  25. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I've been living longer than the author in the UK.

    Sure, the UK has its idiosyncrasies, such as when it comes to plumbing.

    However, I fully recognise the UK citizens' right to control their own destiny -even when they are about to perhaps make a mistake.

    The one thing that makes me uncomforable it that xenofobia seems to be the actual trigger for the descision (a bunch of depsperate people fleeing war), rather than actual economical considerations.

    The us-and-them rethoric from the Brexiters is appalling. A reminder why the tighter integration of Europe was set up in the first place after WWII.

    1. streaky Silver badge

      I'm a brexiteer, I'm not xenophobic - quite the opposite; I'm even a European federalist. The problem is the EU needs to burn to the ground so we can replace it with something fit for purpose. Yes there are racists and xenophobes for brexit; but they're a minority at best. Our problem is we don't like the EU not we don't like other Europeans. Best way I can sum it up is it feels like we're the only ones who can see the iceberg the Titanic is bearing down on. Feels like.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The problem is the EU needs to burn to the ground so we can replace it with something fit for purpose."

        If you have time to wait 100 years, sure why not.

        If you want changes in your lifetime, better be on the inside making those changes.

        You don't expect EU to collapse because the UK leaves do you?

        1. streaky Silver badge

          You don't expect EU to collapse because the UK leaves do you?


          If you want changes in your lifetime, better be on the inside making those changes.

          There's no effective change that can be waged against the EU from the inside which is the entire point, which is circular with see above. Can't even get the Germans to stop inviting people to show up on their doorstep rather than make the refugee camps in Turkey better places to live in and sort the Syria situation out. Hell the EU is making no effort to sort Iraq's IS population where we're invited explicitly so..

          Hence we're better of out. It's not changing either way but the UK can be a freer and richer place where citizens can effect change. Sure can't as EU members.

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            "Can't even get the Germans to stop inviting people to show up on their doorstep"

            You saw something on TV, and now you are an expert?

            You are the ideal Rupert Tool.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " The problem is the EU needs to burn to the ground so we can replace it with something fit for purpose. "

        Brexit software "So it's nearly there but there are a few bugs....right scrap the lot and start from scratch again, start gathering requirements.........."

  26. Roger Mew

    For information, it seems that apart from politicians, the electorate with an IQ of above say 95 are voting to stay whilst an electorate of less than 90 are wishing to leave, bouyed on by politicians who really want to leave for their own reasons. Better top of a small heap than bottom of a large heap! The immigration is a sop, a ruse as the immigration will get worse, well for a while until the UK sorry britain, sinks in stature, as the borders will be even worse as the French will almost immediately throw out the UK border controls in France, therefore lorry passengers will become endemic, from all ports. Also until the wall is built and manned between Eire and Northern Ireland the populace, can if they wish, just walk across.

    Financially the UK, sorry, britain, will be phucked as it is probable that Scotland and for that matter NI will want to depart from the UK leaving britain to sink on its own.

    For those of lower interlect, Oxbridge is a name given to the two cities of both Cambridge and Oxford. The name Oxbridge is often referred to when subjects common to both cities are being discussed.


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