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Country Reports

United Kingdom Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to find it challenging to consolidate his divided Conservative Party, which only has a narrow two-seat majority in parliament and depends on continued support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).The EU has set the UK a deadline of 31 October 2019 to reorganise its domestic political landscape and sign off an agreement that would allow for an orderly Brexit. Should Johnson fail to compromise, direct conflict with parliament would be likely as a majority of MPs want to avoid a "no-deal" Brexit. Any attempt by the government to ignore this sentiment would increase the probability of a no-confidence vote and subsequent early election.Under current circumstances, an early election would be unlikely to bring in a majority government and solve the Brexit deadlock as parliament would remain split. There would be a high probability of a hung parliament in which both the Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party would be unable to form a majority government without support from another party.The UK economy is set to expand by 1.1% in 2019, 1.3% in 2020, and 1.5% in 2021, according to IHS Markit's January forecast. These growth projections assume that the UK and EU will eventually achieve a comprehensive agreement on future relations. A no-deal Brexit would be likely to throw the UK into a prolonged recession. The economy lacks sufficient strength to absorb the full effect of a disorderly Brexit. Businesses would face new trade tariffs, potentially severe cross-border delays, and disrupted domestic supply chains, prompting the delay or cancellation of investment projects and recruitment.The UK faces a heightened risk of both low-capability and more sophisticated jihadist attacks carried out by lone actors or small cells, inspired but not necessarily directed by non-state armed groups such as the Islamic State.
Last update: July 26, 2019

Operational Outlook

The UK's operational environment faces high levels of uncertainty in the context of Brexit. The country's regulatory framework will change substantially once the UK ceases to be an EU member state, currently envisaged by 31 October 2019, and, should the UK manage to avoid a no-deal scenario, even more so after a then likely transition period. Although it is still unclear what the new relationship between the UK and the EU will look like, state contracts for infrastructure are at heightened risk. Temporary strike action is likely to cause disruption. The unions that are most likely to go on strike are in the public transport, healthcare, and manufacturing sectors.

Last update: August 3, 2019

Terrorism

High

The United Kingdom faces a heightened risk of both low-capability and more sophisticated terrorist attacks launched by lone actors or small cells directly linked to non-state militant groups such as the Islamic State or inspired by their ideology. Soft targets, such as transport hubs, bars and restaurants, music and sport venues, shopping centres, or public spaces near tourist attractions, are likely to be most at risk. However, as lone actors often launch attacks near their homes, the risk of a terrorist attack is not limited to larger cities. There is also an elevated risk of retaliatory anti-Muslim attacks launched by far-right proponents and others.

Last update: August 2, 2019

Crime

UK authorities estimate that serious and organised crime cost the country around GBP24 billion a year, and that around 40,600 individuals are involved in approximately 5,800 organised crime groups. Drug smuggling is considered to account for the largest proportion of the cost, followed by fraud. Cyber crime is a growing threat in the UK, including malware, ransomware attacks, and the targeting of networked systems. Although the police force functions effectively and is well-resourced overall, it has had its budgets cut severely over the last years, gradually affecting its ability to provide frontline services.

Last update: June 28, 2019

War Risks

Inter-state war risks are likely to remain low in the UK because of the country's friendly relations with all its neighbours and many other states around the world. The United Kingdom is closely integrated in NATO and other international organisations, but will have to rearrange its defence collaboration with European partners in the context of Brexit. An outbreak of military hostilities on British territory is very unlikely, either in the UK proper or in the country's overseas territories. Any temporary escalation of disputes over the Falkland Islands' sovereignty with Argentina or Gibraltar's with Spain is, for differing reasons, unlikely to lead to military confrontation or war.

Last update: August 2, 2019

Social Stability

Elevated

Pro-EU and pro-Brexit rallies will continue to be staged by several dozen and up to hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in the coming months, in particular in the weeks ahead of the current Brexit deadline of 31 October 2019. Most Brexit-related protests are likely to remain peaceful. However, violent confrontations between police and protesters and between groups with differing ideologies/aims are probable during some demonstrations. Brexit-related rallies, as well as protests against the newly formed government led by Boris Johnson, are most likely to take place in central London near Parliament and Whitehall. Environmental activists are prone to staging disruptive protests targeting the fossil-fuel and auxiliary industries, particularly hydraulic fracturing operations.

Last update: August 2, 2019

Health Risk

Elevated

Vaccinations required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Tick-Borne Encephalitis: For stays in rural zones and for hiking enthusiasts (for children over the age of one).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Very high

Concerning weather conditions, travelers should be aware that England, Scotland, and Wales are regularly hit with violent storms strong enough to cause coastal damage and require evacuations.

In December 2015 and January 2016, Northern England and Scotland were hit by a series of storms that brought heavy flooding to the region, causing extensive damages to home and infrastructure.

Floods, fog, rain, and snow, which are particularly common in winter months, can have a significant impact on air, maritime, and ground transportation.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Moderate

Driving lanes are on the left-hand side of the road and the the drivers' seat in local cars is on the right-hand side of the car. Although secondary roads can be narrow, even in big cities, the entire road network is very well-maintained, including in the countryside. Speed limits are 50 km/h (30 mph) in urban areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) outside urban areas, and 110 km/h (70 mph) on highways. Traffic wardens are very strict about parking; it is advised to refer to the Highway Code before driving in the United Kingdom. Roads signs in Wales feature directions in both the Welsh and English languages, with the Welsh first in many areas; plan ahead and allow more time for your journey, as it can be tricky to read signs whilst driving.

A congestion charge is imposed on all cars entering Central London Monday-Friday from 07:00 to 18:00 (local time). More information about this can be found on the Transport for London website.

Official taxis, commonly referred to as "cabs", are generally black with yellow illuminated "for hire" signage and a distinctive uniform appearance (hackney carriages). They feature a meter. Most of them accept payment by card but those who don't will gladly stop at an ATM on the way for the passenger to withdraw cash. It is safe to hail one off the streets, but it is advised to book one in advance as they can be scarce, especially in the City, London's business district. One should not accept rides from anyone proposing taxi services. In London, texting the word HOME to 60835 will produce a response listing telephone numbers for licensed taxi providers.

Public transport is extensive but not always on time. Strikes regularly affect public transportation. Maintenance work on the rail network can cause significant disruptions. Information about the status of National Rail Services can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website. Scotland's rail network is  old. London has a very extensive bus network and offers hire bikes (Barclays bikes).

The United Kingdom is well served by air, both domestically and internationally. London counts five international airports, all within 15 to 45 minutes' reach from a Central London station. They include City Airport (LCY, located in Central London), Heathrow (LHR), Gatwick (LGW), Luton (LTN), and Stansted (STN) airports. London Heathrow and Gatwick International Airports have their own Heathrow Express and Gatwick Express lines, departing from London Paddington and London Victoria stations respectively.

The government has announced that passengers flying directly to the United Kingdom from six Middle Eastern and North African countries will be banned from transporting any electronic devices larger than a "normal sized" smartphone ( 16 cm x 9.3 cm x 1.5 cm) in carry-on luggage. This include laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, DVD players and videogames, which will be transported in checked luggage. The UK ban applies to all direct flights from airports in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. The measure took effect on March 25 and will remain in place until further notice.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

The United Kingdom has an oceanic climate. Summers are mild (temperatures rarely climb above 32°C) and winters are generally not very cold (temperatures rarely fall below -10°C). Average annual rainfall is over 1000 mm. The western coast, exposed to ocean winds, receives more rainfall than the east. Annual rainfall ranges from 5000 mm in the western Highlands (Scotland) and Wales to less than 500 mm in certain parts of East Anglia. November, December, and January are the least sunny months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +44
Police: 999
Fire Dept.: 999
Ambulance: 999

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019