Writing about Brexit: The Challenge of Uncertainty

This month we published the very topical Brexit and Tourism by Derek Hall. In this post the author talks about the challenges of writing about something uncertain and ever-changing.

To many, relationships between Brexit and tourism may not at first sight seem obvious or even significant. But the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, and the issues surrounding it, have influenced, and will continue to exert profound impacts upon, tourism and related issues.

The value of sterling, availability of labour and migration, agriculture, food and catering, visa policies, taxes, travellers’ health and welfare provision, transport, accommodation, regional development, imagery and identity are just some of the more obvious tourism-related dimensions of Brexit’s direct and indirect impacts that are addressed in the book.

Continued uncertainty and the successive postponement of a withdrawal date have posed an ongoing challenge in maintaining the book’s integrity. Such uncertainty was – and continues to be – exacerbated by the absence of any coherent medium- or long-term national policy for coping with Brexit’s consequences. The outside possibility that a UK withdrawal from the EU might not actually take place was also dangled, and that as a consequence the book could prove to be a hypothetical historical document, an exercise in writing alternative history.

Critical analysis within the book has needed to look beyond the superficial rhetoric and political mendacity that has surrounded so much of the divisive Brexit debates. Acknowledging that academics have their own vested interests in such debates, sustaining objective arguments within the book has also been a challenge.

As no sovereign country has previously left the EU, the precedent of Brexit opens up unknown territory and many intriguing questions to explore. Thus, for example, one chapter of the book is devoted to examining a range of possible theoretical frameworks that can be employed to understand Brexit’s impacts on tourism.

One objective of the book is to broaden and inform debate in areas that have been neglected or even ignored in the UK. Thus the position of Gibraltar, voting 96% to remain in the EU but tied to a UK withdrawal, has barely been mentioned in UK debates. This merits a chapter, as do the likely environmental consequences of Brexit. The roles and situations of EU nationals in the UK and of UK nationals living, working and retiring in (other) EU countries also receive close attention.

Long before the 2016 EU referendum, some Eurosceptics were arguing that the Commonwealth could replace the role of the EU if the UK left the latter. Such arguments later faded away, but the role of the Commonwealth has deserved further scrutiny, not least in relation to the appalling treatment the UK government has meted out to some of the ‘Windrush generation’ regarding their UK citizenship rights.

So, while the book’s focus is placed firmly on relationships between Brexit and tourism, these are set within broad (geo)political, economic, social and environmental perspectives that help to illuminate and illustrate the central themes.

Derek Hall

derekhall@seabankscotland.co.uk

For more information on this book please see our website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s