Stampede to emigrate if Major gets back in

Georgie Bevan on the people who can't face another five grey years
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One in three people considering leaving Britain say that another Conservative government would persuade them once and for all to quit the country.

According to a survey to be released this week by Outbound Newspapers, who publish newspapers for potential emigrants, many now just thinking of leaving will actually do so if the Tories win a sixth term. Nearly 80 per cent of would-be emigrants believe the quality of life in Britain has deteriorated in the past decade. Almost as many say they feel "driven out" by the direction they consider the country to be heading in, blaming low moral values and high unemployment levels.

Almost 250,000 Britons a year are heading for Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's assertion that he would leave Britain if Labour won the general election prompted speculation that other representatives of the super-rich would follow. But Outbound Newspapers' research shows that professional and working people are concerned about a Tory victory.

Tony Bryant, a TV repairer, and his wife,Vivienne, live in a three- bedroom semi-detached house in Weston-super-Mare, a few hundred yards from the M5. In April they are starting a new life in a leafy, uncongested suburb of Brisbane, Australia.

"I reached a point in the mid-Eighties when I didn't feel proud to be British anymore" he says. "Because of successive Tory governments I believe there's been under-investment in my trade, a failure to support home industries, a decline in wage levels and there are grim prospects for getting a decent pension. I'm sure I can do better for myself in Australia. Maybe if there had been a Labour government a few years ago it might have changed our minds. Having gone through the process of selling the house and getting the visas, however, there would have to be some pretty drastic changes to persuade us to come back."

June Spindloe, who has emigrated to Nova Scotia, Canada, says leaving Britain has "transformed" her life. Six months ago she moved to the quiet coastal city of Halifax with her new husband and daughter. She had battled with Britain's welfare system for six years to bring up her two children and hold down a full-time job after her first husband died. Fed up with Britain, its class system and its political climate, she says her life is now "less stressful, more fulfilling and better fun".

"In Britain everyone's so aggressive," she says. "I earned more there, but also spent more. I was exhausted all the time."

Interest in emigrating has grown so much that an exhibition offering advice about it will be held in late March at Sandown racecourse in Surrey. The Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African governments are sending representatives to recruit emigrants.

But Colin Marchant, managing editor of Outbound Newspapers, warns that people need to think seriously about emigrating. "This survey shows that people are becoming more blinkered in their expectations," he says. "When people were asked if anything could tempt them to stay in Britain, the majority said better weather. It seems as though they just want to escape Britain and live a life-long holiday in the sun."