Why I'm leaving the UK



On Monday 18th June, I put my notice in at one of the most exciting jobs I have ever had (Head of Computer Emergency Response - University of Cambridge). Challenging, complex and one where I had the joy of working with an absolutely excellent team (for which I will be ever thankful - a boss is only as good as his team, and in my team, I had the best).

The long hours, the complexity of the investigations; they were both a source of pleasure and pain when dealing with the sea of different colleges and departments. It had the perfect mix of ultra modern tech with orthodox traditions; it definitely provided more than enough work. When you see the CERT teams of other Universities, and they see the size of my team, they are always amazed at not only how we can protect Europe's biggest digital network with my small team, but how dedicated my team are to the cause.

The major problem, however, was not with the University of Cambridge - it was my country. Before the Brexit vote, during my various trips to Europe, I was proud to identify myself as a British European. A nation made up of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland & England - working together for a common cause, working within a larger group of European Nations - bringing together our common values in order to march together for a better tomorrow.

Ease of travel, ease of cross-border trade, cross-disciplinary and international collaboration with other Universities was a life I understood and loved. We all have our differences and those, in turn, make us collectively better when working together, exchanging new ideas and working towards an optimistic future. Strength in our diversity.

The Brexit vote changed this for me. The idea that we would be better alone, isolated in our own little island (with the occasional trading agreement with the Isle of Wight) is not in any way compatible with my way of thinking. My Mum brought me up better than that. My Mum always made me feel special and loved, but she never made me feel "better" than anyone else. That was what my attitude towards my nationality was; I was proud to be British, I never thought I was better for being British.

Then came this outburst of nationalistic attitudes in the UK. The Daily Mail ascertaining that "everyone coming over here" was somehow a "swarm", rather than just people wanting to work and play their part in our European project. The idea that somehow being "British" is better, rather than just being a luck of the draw, sickens me. "They need us more than we need them"....

I now fully identify as European. In the last two years, I have had the absolute pleasure of working in two summer schools within TTU, where we have done excellent work in both Social Engineering and this year, into the security of the maritime sector. With students and mentors from Australia, Germany, UK and Estonia we brought all of our ideas together & made a positive contribution to the whole.

In the meantime, Estonia, a relatively new country in the EU, that has embraced the digital revolution with not only technology but in a socially conscious way, has advanced e-Governance and with their highly energetic startup culture, has taken their place within the European Union with gusto - and are showing countries far greater in size how to embrace digital change. Through integrity, through hard work, and through their ability to be open and exchange frank ideas.

A country that has made me feel so welcome. I now want to be a part of that future. One looking forward, not looking back.

I thank Cambridge for the excellent opportunities I have had; it has been a pleasure. I wish you all the best, and I hope you manage to navigate the new challenges ahead with Brexit.

Good luck Britain. 

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