From The Sunday Times
August 26, 2007
The hell of being a British expat


Jeremy Clarkson

Alarming news. It seems that all the world’s clever people have gone missing. We know where the stupid people are. They’re in the White House, or they’re on Big Brother, or they’re singing for Simon Cowell’s supper. But while we are absorbed with this lot, the rocket scientists and astrophysicists have disappeared.
Seriously. America claims that the huge influx of Mexicans is in no way compensation for George Clooney, who has moved to Italy, and Madonna, who now lives in Wiltshire. And that it has a net brain drain.
It’s the same story in Egypt, Iran, India, Russia, New Zealand and France. Germany claims to be in the middle of the biggest brain drain since the 1940s. Everywhere you look, governments are saying that while they’re up to here with housekeepers and swimming pool attendants, their graduates are all moving out.
So where are they going? Could it be, I wondered, that all the Tefalheads have come to Britain? Certainly, we seem to have so many scientists that there aren’t enough serious projects to go round. On Thursday, for instance, two Manchester doctors announced that they’d been studying dinosaurs and found that the T-rex had a slower top speed than Frank Lampard. Wow.
Further evidence came to light on Thursday with the GCSE results. Every 16-year-old in the land, except those who have recently been shot, had scored at least 415% in advanced Latin and applied maths.
Yes! I thought. Britain is pinching all the Russian billionaires, the American singers, the French chefs, the Egyptian doctors and the German businessmen. We may not be the happiest nation on Earth or the richest. But we are the brainiest.
And then came the latest migration figures, which showed that while Britain received 5.4 billion west African pickpockets last year, we lost what the Daily Mail calls 196,000 British citizens. White, middle-class families who have moved abroad.
These figures would lead us to suggest that like everywhere else, Britain is suffering from a brain drain. That all our well educated, well spoken young professionals are being replaced by Borat.
Unfortunately, this argument fails to hold any water when you look at where these middle-class people are moving to. Australia is the No 1 choice, apparently, with 1.3m British emigrants living there.
Fine, but in the whole of human history, nobody has ever woken up and thought, “I know. I have a wonderful family, lots of money, a great job and an active social life. I shall therefore move to Australia.”
Australia is where you go when you’ve made a mess of everything. That’s why the 1.3m Brits who live there are known as whingeing Poms. Because they’re all failures.
Another popular destination is Spain, which is home these days to 761,000 Brits. Are they all brain surgeons? Inventors? Did Sir Christopher Cockerell invent the hovercraft and then move to Puerto Banus? No. Spain is where you go when you’ve sold your taxi.
What about America then? We imagine that the Brits living there are successful and bright, like David Beckham and, er, Kelly Brook. But mostly, I suspect the people who move from Britain to the States do so because they are interested in guns and murdering.
Twice I’ve bumped into expats while in America and both times they were wandering around in woods carrying preposterously large guns and wearing combat fatigues. One was chewing tobacco which, when combined with his broad Birmingham accent, made him appear to be the stupidest person in the world. He probably was.
The fact is, I’m afraid, that anyone who emigrates from Britain, no matter where they end up, is a bit of a dimwit.
I mean, why leave? Because you have no friends? Well, what makes you think it’ll be easier to make friends somewhere else. Because of the weather? Oh, come on. Sunny days work when you’re on holiday but when you’re stuck in an office, you need it to be 57F and drizzling.
Maybe you’re fed up with the crime in Britain. What, and you think California has fewer murders than Bourton-on-the-Water? You think there are no syringes on Bondi Beach?
Public services? Puh-lease. Even if you can convey to the chap on the other end of the phone that you are up to your knees in raw sewage, he will still take two weeks to dispatch some walnut-faced thief who’ll make everything worse and charge you £800.
Maybe you fancy a tax haven? Great, you save a few quid but you end up with a bunch of other ingrates in a cesspit like Monaco. Seriously, would you rob a bank knowing you could keep the money but that you’d have to do some time? No. Well, don’t be a tax exile, then, because it’s the same thing.
Honestly, every single expat I’ve ever met is the same; hunched at a bar in a stupid shirt, at 10 in the morning, desperately trying to convince themselves that they are not alcoholics, that the barman really is their friend and that it’s only 11 hours till bedtime.
And then, when they clock your accent, they launch into a slurred tirade about Gordon Brown and the British weather and how their prawns are the size of Volkswagens. And then they ask if by any chance you’ve got a copy of The Week.
Anyone who fails to realise that this is how they’ll end up
is monumentally idiotic and we’re better off without
them. So go and we’ll see you back here when you need some brain surgery.
The hell of being a British expat | Jeremy Clarkson - Times Online