Brexit. Or "Oh God, it's all so bloody depressing".
I’ve been looking for something to write a blog post about for a while.. it’s been quiet in my brain and nothing has really wound me up.
However, a recent adventure to a convention in France (detailed over 35mins of grumbling and travelling on my youtube channel) suddenly struck a chord.
That trip was the last time I’m scheduled to be visiting Europe before Brexit ensues. That made me tremendously sad.
It’s no secret that I voted to Remain in the EU on 23rd June 2016. I’m a massive believer that we work wonderfully well as a combined unit, and that the future of the UK should be as a member of the European Union. I still believe that, and the further down the road we get into this disaster the more and more reasons to stay seem to appear in front of me.
Not only is this whole debacle seemingly being dealt with in a similar fashion to the way I did my coursework at university (talk about how well it’s going for months and then realise 4 days before deadline that you’ve not even written the title yet), but it’s being lead by a bunch of people who, in my humble, and not particularly well versed opinion, don’t seem to have the first sodding idea what they’re doing.
I don’t really understand what this backstop agreement is. It’s something to do with making sure we don’t end up with a physical border between North Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (the latter of which is staying in the EU) thus triggering all kinds of unpleasant tensions in the peace process there. What I do understand is that the EU have set out their terms, and us, the Brits keep going back and asking them to change it. They keep saying no, we come back, grumble, go back and ask them to change it. They say no, and on we go ad infinitem.
I also don’t really understand the majority of the arguments I hear about reasons for leaving.
We’ll get our country back. What the buggering heck does that even mean?! The UK isn’t a football that was accidentally booted over the neighbour’s fence. We’ve been here the whole time. In fact, we agreed with the neighbours to take down some of the fence so we could have a bigger patch of grass to play on. As long as we mowed their grass from time to time.
We won’t be governed by unelected Bureaucrats. We’re not. We elect our government, they, along with the other EU member states elect the European Council. The people we gave authority to act on our behalf are ACTING ON OUR BEHALF. What’s difficult or disagreeable about that?
We won’t have all these bloody foreigners everywhere, taking our jobs, our council houses and our benefits. Well. We will still have foreigners and immigrants living and working in this country. The last time I checked, the majority of immigrants aren’t entitled to benefits unless they’re paying into the tax system, just like you and me. There’s a few exceptions to this rule, but from what I understand, the amount of assistance those few get is so little as to barely make a difference, other than to stop them starving to death on the streets.
We’ll be free to make our own trade deals. We had pretty friggin good ones already thanks?
£350m a week for the NHS. Oh, fuck off. Really?
When I was in France the other weekend, I was talking to people about Brexit, and they were baffled by the whole thing. A bit like we are with a lot of what’s going on with Trump in the US - they get the headlines but not always the background to understand exactly what the problem is.
Trying to explain to people why we were leaving was really tricky. I appreciate this is because I don’t want to leave, and therefore my opinion is skewed, but really, I do try and at least get an understanding of why people voted to leave, and I just can’t find a decent reason.
I know people who voted leave. I know people who I respect and like, and who’s opinions I like to hear. But I don’t understand a single one of their reasons for voting out. It makes no sense to me at all.
Selfishly, I’m worried about what happens next. I work in the EU at least a few times a year, maybe 20% of my income is in some way made from physically being in Europe. If I can’t easily and without question travel and work in these 26 remaining countries, then what happens to that 20% of my earnings?
I also live in Wales, a part of the UK that is heavily subsidised by the EU through their development funds (which have recently funded such things as research centres in Swansea, a new, more suitable road across the Valleys, allowing better transport links and access to industry and town centre redevelopments in parts of Wales where poverty and unemployment are still big problems. A large part of Wales also receives farming subsidies, to help our farmers to keep farming and creating amazing local product for the UK and Europe.
What concerns me is that all these areas, almost completely voted to Leave, and thus cut off all this funding. Sure, the UK Government has said it’s putting processes in place to make sure that they will have funding going forward, but that’s going to have to come from either more UK national debt, or by taking money away from other sectors that also need it.
The argument against this I’ve read is “oh, but it’s our tax that gets given to Europe and then given back to us as aid”. Well, yes, somewhat true. BUT, it’s also the tax of millions of other EU members who fund the EU and therefore the money is shared. Your town centre redevelopment is not only being paid for by Brits, but by the French, Germans, Spanish, Italians etc etc. Cut 26 countries out of that equation and the pot gets smaller. Right?
What bothers me most about this whole process is the complete and utter “buggered if I know” approach we all seem to have to the question “So, when we leave the EU in a month and a bit, what happens?”.
NO ONE KNOWS.
In 44 days time, in theory we will be out of the EU. I have things prepared for travel I’m doing further away than that, and I’m one person. The concept that 63million or so people are going to be essentially locked in a dark room with no idea where the door is, let alone a key absolutely baffles me.
It’s like there’s been a discussion:
“What would happen if we got locked in this room?”
“Well, we’ll find the door, find a key that fits and let ourselves out”.
But no one has thought to check where the door actually is, or in fact if there’s a key. Let alone a door.
It’s also sad. Really really sad.
The other thing that scares me is that these talks about how we leave are only the START OF THE PROCESS!
Once 29th March arrives, we, as it stands, are no longer in the EU. However, we haven’t yet agreed on how we’re going to leave (nicely, via the front door, being told we’re welcome back for a coffee whenever we’re passing by), or whether we turn up the next morning to find all our belongings in bin bags on the pavement outside (the more likely scenario at this rate). But this is JUST THE BEGINNING AND WE CAN’T EVEN DO THIS BIT WITHOUT IT FALLING APART.
After 29th March 2019, the government and the EU, and potentially anyone else we want to do business with in the future, have to sit down and decide what deals we will be able to do in the future.
I guess in some ways it’s like having a terrible divorce, Dad taking the kids away and then having to sit down with Mum, who he decided he wants nothing to do with and decide who is going to get the school holidays, and who’ll be doing the laundry.
If we can’t leave nicely, why on earth are they going to give us anything we ask for after that? I wouldn’t. But then I’m a scorpio and I hold a grudge like you wouldn’t believe.
So. I guess we just wait and see.
I’ve no idea what’s going on. I just know it’s bloody miserable.
In the meantime, I’ll be stockpiling Gorgonzola, Pinot Grigio and Stroopwaffel. You just can’t be too careful.