The effects of the pandemic have been so pervasive that every political and social issue facing Britain has become involved with it.
This article is part of a series – Future Pandemics in 2021 and beyond.
While foolish for anyone to predict the future, it seems pretty certain that for Great Britain 2021 and beyond will be difficult. Such a future is quite certain because of the immediate consequences and further evolution of things that started happening in 2020 and a few years earlier. Improper handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit colliding. Instead of the overwhelming sense of relief many in the United States may feel, the beginning of 2021 is likely to be chaotic in Britain.
The effects of the pandemic have been so pervasive that every political and social issue facing Britain has become involved with it. While the lesson for 2020 is that there is a real possibility that something unpredictable or unknown can have a dramatic impact, several known and interrelated issues will significantly impact life in Britain in 2021 and beyond. Key issues include Brexit, the continued health effects of COVID, the economy, internal politics of devolution, and President Biden.
COVID-19 – vaccines and investigations
More than 64,000 people have died from COVID-related causes, and by mid-December, most of Great Britain will be locked again due to a sharp increase in infections and deaths. What is different during this third cycle of blackouts is the vaccine. On 8 December, the UK started its biggest vaccination program in the history of the country. It began administering vaccines to people aged 80 or older, long-term facility care workers, and medical personnel who were at high risk of exposure. This is a significant achievement for the UK, and researchers, the health care system and politicians are no exception. At least they would be able to say that despite the mishandling of the early months and the spread of infection, Britain was the first to give a vaccine to its people. Vaccines, as far as we know, neither prevents infection nor does it prevent further transmission. What it does effectively is prevent serious illness and the death of those who are infected. And the very valuable thing a vaccine will do is blunt any potential analysis or criticism from an official COVID investigation. There is little doubt that there will a question, but we can expect to hear over and over again, ‘we’re doing the best we can,’ and ‘we’re helping produce and deliver vaccines.’
Vaccines, no matter the actual details of what they actually do and don’t do, provide much-needed oxygen for the economy to restart. A strange thing has happened in England as in any other country. While the economy has contracted badly, it’s not done as badly as it should be. It is global equity market has soared. And it is likely that as the UK government will continue to support wherever it is needed, equity markets will continue to move up. The dark side of the peculiar COVID economy, of course, is rising unemployment and severely reduced income. Child malnutrition increases, which also means that child development tends to slow down more generally, increasing inequality among groups of children as well as between social groups for years to come. Those who have the resources to get through 2020, or perhaps, even benefit from the boom in the equity market, are the winners of this pandemic. As 2021 begins to unfold, increasing deprivation and social inequality will become more visible. This means that once things start opening up again, people will start opening up see the effect one another.
January 31st 2020 is supposed to be a big day of celebration for the British Prime Minister and most of the UK population. It was the day Britain officially left the European Union. Indeed, it was reported that the main reason Prime Minister Johnson did not attend some of the emergency meetings regarding the pandemic that was taking place in January was that he was so focused on the landmark Brexit events. UK and EU agree there will be 11 months for negotiations new rules for dealing with each other – “trade deals.” And, it has been said that one of the reasons the UK is responding so badly to the pandemic is because the entire civil service and political leadership is focused on ‘Getting Brexit Done’.
Towards the December 31 deadline, it’s already there disagree with the EU. This is not a situation where last-minute negotiations will lead to an agreement; the number of problems is too great, and too interrelated. This will have enormous consequences in all sectors, for the government, and the daily lives of most people. Two places where people will feel the impact are at the grocery store and on their holidays. At the very least, some meals will be more expensive. And a getaway to a warm climate or a weekend trip to Europe’s major cities will be far from smooth. In fact, EU countries can make it difficult for visitors from the UK given its COVID situation.
During 2020, the Scotsman will be outraged whenever the international media reports how badly Britain is responding to COVID. Much self-government or devolution between different countries means they have implemented different policies, with different results. That Scottish expresses pride in acting more quickly and implementing policies that appear to have reduced the pandemic to date. In contrast, most of the deaths occurred in the UK. Apart from countries, the pandemic has also increased tensions between the Center and cities and other large metropolitan areas. For example, requiring increased restrictions in certain cities and regions due to increased infections while not providing further financial support to the region seems unfair and increasingly burdensome local governments. 2021 is sure to see more of these issues of intra-national governance and devolution, and perhaps increase hatred against the center and the ruling party.
The momentum behind Brexit and rising anti-EU sentiment in the UK is seen to some extent amplified by Trump’s rise in the US. Indeed, there is clear evidence that individuals are spearheading the movement to leave the EU related to Trump and his reign. And many of the methods used in US elections to elect Trump are also used used on Brexit Choose. There are also many comparisons between Johnson and Trump. That the election of Joe Biden immediately change what the UK can do in many domains including Brexit, the COVID response, devolution and so on. Biden will aim to build multilateralism again, trying to isolate some of the rising authoritarian powers, and aiming to contain China. And this may mean that Britain will have to follow in Biden’s footsteps. Following in the US footsteps will become commonplace for British people. What will be new is that the black Americans who get Biden elected will make the connection that Britain played a fundamental role in creating their predicament. I predict the photo with Kamala Harris, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will go viral.