I encourage British readers to consult the site People’s Vote and The Independent March for the Future scheduled for 20th October in London. All details about locations and logistics will be found on the page. It is an opportunity for large numbers of people to demand a second referendum on Brexit to undo the present deadlock in negotiations and the real threat of a no-deal Brexit. I would go myself, but I don’t have the money, given that I need to travel next month for a Diocesan Council of Advice meeting.
When the referendum occurred in 2016 I was disenfranchised from voting by the British law that says that anyone living outside the UK for more than fifteen years no longer has the right to vote. A revision of this law is presently going through Parliament, but it will take a long time. I don’t know how I would have voted at the time, given that the EU was being blamed for everything. It is only now that people are becoming informed that the promises at the time over Brexit were deliberate lies and that the present process towards a no-deal Brexit will be catastrophic both for the UK and Europe.
Anyone who reads the news, not only from the mass media but also in blogs, will see how complicated it is all becoming. The Tory Government and its far-right extremists are behaving like a blinkered horse. A no-deal Brexit seems only to be of interest to obscenely rich and powerful people. See this sober analysis.
As I have mentioned before, Brexit is a black cloud over us British who live in European countries. Just as EU citizens living and working in the UK, we are living in paralysing incertitude. My parents and grandparents lived through World War II, and we know that the European Union was about stopping wars for good and working together for the common good of all the countries. Now, with this gamble by the bungling David Cameron who ran from it like Blofeld knowing that James Bond was going to give him his dues, families are divided.
I write as one whose situation in France is assured by French law on account of my uninterrupted living here for years and my being in the French social security system. I am applying for French nationality, something I should have done years ago, because I fulfil the criteria for citizenship by declaration and not by decree. The situation of many other British people here is much more delicate. Will retired people get their pensions? Will British banks still be allowed to send money to the Continent? Will our driving licences still be valid beyond next April? Will people still have health coverage on British schemes before going into the French system (which is not that easy)? Dreams will be shattered and newly renovated houses will have to be sold at cut-down prices. Some people might have to go back to England with nowhere to go and a long wait to get benefits.
Those of us here in Europe can only prepare for the worst by applying for the residence permits provided for presently under French law for EU citizens (we still are until 31st March 2019). Those who have been here for long enough and have the right papers can apply for citizenship and recover the right to free movement we presently have.
I am aware that many British people who read this blog probably voted “Leave” two years ago. I might have done so too at the time, given the propaganda about there being so much more money for the ailing National Health Service. It must have seemed the patriotic thing to do, in the spirit of the old days of the Empire and national pride. I am convinced that leaving the EU without a deal will cause a catastrophic recession in the UK, worse than the 1970’s, poverty and inaccessible health care for poor people. We will be poorer culturally and closed to the input of people from other cultures. Unless the country becomes a full-blown totalitarian dictatorship, there will still be people from India and Pakistan, from the West Indies, many fanatical Muslims – but Europeans would be penalised and stopped at the borders.
I believe our patriotic duty is to do everything possible to stop the madness of something that is a human invention. It is not inevitable or predestined from the foundation of the world. It can be stopped, preferably by the same people who put it in place, and our country given time to re-evaluate our relationship with other countries speaking different languages and with other cultural references, time to challenge aspects of the EU that need reform and more accountability. I once believed the old cant about the EU being a blind bureaucracy, an Orwellian monster – until I saw the old totalitarian demons in some of our own British MP’s and Cabinet Ministers. I give my voice to the “Remain” campaign, without any hatred in regard to those who voted “Leave”, but so that sanity and reason may prevail.
Nothing is graven in stone, and every human institution and law needs to be adapted to the historical context and the needs. Certainly, with the UK in the EU, greater progress can be made in realising the aim of the EU which is the fostering of peace and human rights. I would prefer this work to be done in the context of the present status quo rather than having to return to the EU in ten years’ time with a begging bowl.
For the sake of many people who may find themselves out of a home and livelihood, in the name of God and human decency, I ask you to protest against this black cloud and ask for an end to this nightmare. If you can go to London next weekend, give your heart and voice for our Queen and Nation.
Again, as I commented on another of your posts on this topic, hear, hear!
On Monday afternoon I watched the coverage from the House of Commons for Theresa May’s statement. It was chilling to see the usual people BloJo, Moggie, Steve Baker, Peter Bone etc bray on about the supposed evils of Europe and the need to sever ties at any cost. None of these people give a s**t about ordinary people, their working conditions, their material and emotional health and well-being being obsessed with an antiquated view of our country and its place in the world.
Where are these fantastic trade deals which are, putatively, being inhibited by the UK remaining in some form of Customs Union at least? We have a major trading partner already to whom we are basically saying bu**er off.
May I share a comment I just read on the BBC website. I am afraid it will sadly prove to be an accurate prediction:
“3397. Posted by Fish-Man on
15 minutes ago
By 1922 the British Empire held sway over about 458 million people, one-quarter of the world’s population. In 1926 Elizabeth ii was born and in her life time may witness not only the complete decline of the British Empire but also the break up of the United Kingdom & N.I, delivered by those who can’t adapt to and accept change.”
Pray God this Brexit madness yet may be stopped.
It would appear that the people who “can’t adopt to and accept change” are those having problems with Brexit.
You’re a good friend, Dale, but you have little idea of the glorious sunrise of the changes in store for us. I quote from someone:
“Apart from the crashed currency, the price rises, the normalisation of lying, the worsening trade gap, the increase in hate crime & violent crime, the undermining of parliament, the splintering of families, the loss of high-income jobs, the threat to peace in Ireland, the shortage of farm workers, the further alienation of Scotland, the weakening of our science base, the loss of health cover in 27 countries, the higher phone charges when travelling, the loss of GDPR protection, the uncertainty in Gibraltar, the loss of doctors and nurses, the loss of influence in the world, the soaring debt, the €60 billion bill, the massive distraction from other issues and the international derision… what harm has Brexit ever done to us?”
I add to that the torturing uncertainty faced by about 3 million Europeans living, working and paying tax in the UK, and about 2 million of us Brits doing the same thing in Europe. Many dreams will be shattered and hard-working white people will be reduced to destitution – not all of us, but some.
We enter into a new era when compassion will be a weakness. I see the threat of the far-right in brilliant lucidity. Facebook is as full of it as the streets around an English football stadium on a Saturday evening when all is swilling in cheap lager. I feel like a German in the 1920’s or even early 30’s!
This is not scaremongering, but the fact that these would be the consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Unless the can gets kicked down the road for another couple of years (which would madden the “Brextremists”), there can be no agreement because of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction comes into play. Sorry, but a little more understanding of the reality would be appreciated.
Well Dale, of course, there is truth in the statement but it really depends on what one defines as ‘change’. Personally, I would prefer to differentiate – as per the famous Tom Sharpe line put into the mouth of Scullion in Porterhouse – ‘there is such a thing as change and there is such a thing as improvement.’
Having had two grandfathers who went to war in 1914, and thankfully returned alive, and three uncles go to war in 1939 – and all safely return home – I am rather glad of the change of not having had to go to war myself.
The EU was formed initially with a view of never again having a war between European countries. Having had 70 years free of European wars I would argue that is a change for the better, or an improvement if you like.
I also happen to believe, pernicious liberal that I am, that changes to workers rights under European Working Times Directive is a change for the better. Call me old fashioned but I thought the exploitation of working people had been condemned by that other old liberal Leo XIII. As per Fr. Anthony’s series of posts on the Brexit issues there are millions of both EU citizens and UK subjects not living in the countries of their birth taking full advantage of the change the EU facilitated of the ‘Four Movements’. I for one was planning before this fiasco to move Westwards in the next five years or so. Whether that can now happen, and with the collapse of Sterling it certainly cannot if things remain the same. I deeply resent the Brexit brigade changing my rights in this regard.
I also welcome the change of the EU having a moderating influence on the UK’s, almost always, disastrous foreign policy led on by the US. Time and time again we have been drawn into USA militiary conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, almost always backing the wrong side with disastrous long term consequences. This was but an extension of old Imperial Britain and, to be honest, the change from that to the Commonwealth goes in my book as an improvement.
There is also change in terms of communication and ICT. I welcome change that allows me to be able to communicate with friends at home and abroad by the touch of the keyboard. Living as we do in a truly global world I fail to see how the change of going back to somewhere in the 1950s is, frankly, ludicrous.
Brexit is basically bollocks. The Leave Campaign lied through their teeth telling the gullible that the NHS would get an extra £350M a week etc. The Leave Campaign never even presented a plan such as how to solve the issue of the NI/ROI border as they never even expected to even win the vote. As a Christian I can only see the change that would make millions of people, particulary those at the poorer end of the income scale, worse off as a change and not an improvement.
With that understanding I am firmly opposed to that type of change.
But Fr Anthony, the same people who are making the divorce so difficult, the Germans, are the same people to whom you wish to continue to work with. There are no reasons for a major economic dislocation, other than the Germans are pissed at Britain for leaving, and wish to use Great Britain as an example for any other country considering leaving. . Switzerland does not belong to the EU, yet enjoys virtually the same economic benefits without having to submit to control by Brussels, the same could be worked out for Great Britain if not for the intransigent path taken by the Germans.
The farm issue is a non-starting, Switzerland has simply introduced a guest worker programme that works quite well, as has Canada. Workers come during planting and harvesting season and then leave to return to their homelands. It works. So, yes, much of this is indeed fear mongering.
The Germans, having made virtually all of the Mediterranean countries into their colonies because of the massive debts they owe to Germany, are upset that the British refuse to submit.
Europe’s economy will also be heavily, and negatively affected by Brexit unless a more equatable divorce is not permitted. As I once mentioned before, one of the great fears spread in liberal circles concerning the election of Trump in the United States was that it would result in an immediate stock market crash. it did not happen, although the liberals still have hope.
If Brexit does not result in the end of the world, other nations may eventually stand up to the dictatorship of Brussels. And in their defense, many Eastern European nations are refusing to continue their submission as well.
Rubricarius, having a grandfather that went to war in the Great War and a father who fought in part II, I do not really think that the EU really has had that much of an influence in keeping the peace, perhaps one can thank the United States for that? But when the Balkans erupted into war and ethnic cleansing, what did the EU do? Well, nothing. Of course now that the Germans control the whole shebang, why should there be war in the west?
The class issue is getting old as well. I fail to see how Brexit is going to retard workers’ rights in Great Britain, other than those who lost will drag up anything to make those who supported Brexit look bad.
On one hand it was those nasty upper-class snobs who wanted Brexit (of course this would result in a dearth of cheap servants, but no one is mentioning that issue); but on the other hand hate-crimes, committed by one suspects the white lower orders, are going to go through the roof (because we know Muslims never commit hate crimes). So who is it that really supported Brexit. Actually, the richer areas tended to be remainers. But do not let that ruin a good story.
And yet for some reason none of this is considered pandering to fear mongering.
Let us suppose that from 1951 until 1958 the European Coal and Steel Community (consisting of Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany) significantly helped prevent “having a war between European countries”, and that the European Economic Community (with Greece as an associate member from 1962 until 1967) continued to do so until 1973: 22 years of peace without British membership. With British membership on the terms of the accession treaty coming into effect in 1973, the EEC continued to do so with Britain as member for another 20 years prior to the establishment of the European Union. One might well “fail to see how the change of going back to somewhere in the 1950s” and the 1960s and the early 1970s, and on till in the early 1990s, need be particularly problematical in terms of continuing to prevent “having a war between European countries”.
I suspect that the Western Union or Brussels Treaty Organisation with France, the UK, Belgium the Netherlands, and Luxembourg as members was already contributing significantly to such prevention from 1948 until the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland were added the following year – and I think Dale is correct in thinking that the resulting North Atlantic Treaty Organization with U.S. involvement had a considerable “influence in keeping the peace” thereafter.
Dale, the point I was making is that member countries of a union are less likely to initiate wars within that union than countries outside of it.
The prominent Brexit supporters have little time for things such as WTD. They bandy around the terms like ‘flexibility’ and think it is fine to have people on zero-hour contracts etc as it make them cheaper to employ and business more competitive. I do not think it is anything about class but about respect for peoples rights and well-being.
I think you will find that the majority of ‘those nasty upper class snobs’ as you appellate them would have voted for Remain. The demographics of the 2016 vote show the strongest correlation for the Remain vote with the best educated and most affluent. On the Leave side a significant proportion of their support came from working class Labour voters. The people who will be most effect by Brexit, and IMO adversely, are those who largely voted for it.
As to Germany making things difficult I do not believe they are. The principle of the ‘Four Freedoms’ is very clear, they cannot be separated and ‘cherry picked’. Germany and the other 26 remaining countries are sticking with the EU law and principles. The Leave campaign made much of ‘taking back control of our borders’ without any thought of practicalities. If we reject freedom of movement then we cannot have something like the ‘Norway model’. The former Brexit Secretary, Davis, waxed lyrical about how easy it would be to get a ‘Canada ++’ deal. The problem there is the land border between NI and ROI. This was pointed out by the EU negotiating team at the very beginning of discussions. Our commitments to the Good Friday Agreement were never considered by the Leave campaign.
If the Brexiteers would even have a go at presenting a viable alternative to ‘Chequers’. So far all they can come up with is the idea of ‘technology’ to avoid a customs border without explaining how this would work and what technology would actually deliver it.
Now if Mrs. May were to give the six counties of NI to the ROI a deal with the EU could easily be reached. However the DUP would be unhappy, to say the least, and it would be curtains for the Conservative and Unionist Party.
What would a return to Irish border conditions of the period 1949-1973 look like?
I am surprised to hear one is “disenfranchised from voting by the British law that says that anyone living outside the UK for more than fifteen years no longer has the right to vote” – that citizenship alone has no sufficient weight beyond that span, but must be united with (legal? actual?) residence – though, indeed, that is also presumably one of those things within the power of different states to organize differently. (As a U.S. citizen, I am permitted by both the Dutch and U.S, governments to vote in Dutch local elections, but no ‘higher’ ones – for a different example.) I am glad to hear that a “revision of this law is presently going through Parliament”, and hope it is a well-wrought one!
I saw something about the revision of this “15-year” law being on the agenda in March 2018. It seems to have gone into hiding. Here is a Guardian article from 21st April 2017. Independent of 8th August 2018. House of Commons of 1st March 2018. Another can to be kicked down the road…
This just in on the 15-year rule Britons abroad vote bill debated today – article dated 17th October 2018.
With regard to “the uncertainty in Gibraltar”, this looks fairly heartening:
David Llewellyn Dodds,
In answer to your question about the Irish border, I imagine the government destroying bridges and erecting 20 ft walls decked with barbed wire, with Gardai/PSNI customs checks at most major roads, even checks along railway lines. Unless, of course, reason and good will prevail…
I did not see this till now… When I first travelled with student railcard around Europe there were passport and customs checks at national borders – as there are when I travel by road from the U.S. to Canada, none of which seem(ed) too arduous – though, as I take you to be suggesting, something more ‘Shengenesque’ could indeed be worked out with reason and good will.
I think, correct me if I am wrong, but Patrick, is being sarcastic. His sarcasm is usually spot on.
Yes, but it’s my impression that there are astonishingly impudent and pig-headed things actually being suggested, on the one hand, and, on the other, a sort of surprising fraught obliviousness as to how such things work well enough all over the place, and presumably did, and could again, there, too.