I didn’t want to make any political or other similar articles on this blog but this is such a significant outcome that is historic and will affect my life as an expat in France that I have to make some comment.
I went to bed Thursday night thinking that it would be close but the outcome would be a Remain and woke up to Oh s*!t.
Perhaps having ancestry of various European nationalities and perhaps living abroad gives me a difference perspective, but I think that was the wrong choice.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the arguments to leave – the EU is definitely a large, cumbersome, opaque, slow moving entity that wastes a lot of money, doesn’t seem to be accountable to the person on the street and the representatives often seem to work purely in their nations or self, political interests. It has also expanded too quickly.
But I still think we’re better working together to sort things out and that we are stronger together than apart.
I came across this video (warning: it is long, about 24 mins) which I feel was a clear and erudite explanation of why Remain was better:
The American documentary maker Michael Moore was on the radio the other day to talk about something else but mentioned the vote. He said to not Leave. Unfortunately his argument showed a complete misunderstanding of the situation: he called it Europe which is not the same as the EU and compared it to the US which, is not the same sort of arrangement or history at all. He also said that Brits should take the examples of Portugal and Norway as ideals – bad choices: Portugal is in terrible financial trouble and Norway is NOT in the EU! Oh well, I suppose he tried.
I believe that all parties’ campaigns in the UK were woeful. Either from distorting the truth, playing on populist emotive subjects (which they have since denied they ever said anything concrete about), not addressing the real concerns of those who would vote out, scaremongering, not trying to push the positive of staying in, giving limp statements and just playing political career games. None of them come out well in this, and some of the media even less.
Elections can be won and lost by the media these days.
I read or heard Lord Sugar saying he was brought in as adviser and told the Remain campaign to not just spout statistics but to give the reasons why. Really? They needed an adviser to tell them that? I could have told them that for a lot less and I wouldn’t have wanted a knighthood. I think there are many people who could have done the same.
I watched French news and directly heard the reactions. But the UK tabloids, as they always do, gave a little taint to their headlines to make it seem as though Europe hates the Brits and can’t wait to get rid of them. Which wasn’t how I took their reactions. No wonder that is how a lot of British feel about Europe.
But that is the way the UK has voted and everyone has to accept it, although I do wish that everyone would stop saying it is a decisive vote. It is far from it.
Only 51.89% voted leave, against 48.11% remain from a 72% turnout. So that is also nearly 50% of British, who turned out, want to stay in.
The Scottish referendum, which everyone calls very close, had 55.3% vote stay, against 44.7% with a turnout of 84.6%. The SNP have been calling for a second referendum ever since, because they thought it so close, and now they have cause.
Interestingly, Nicola Sturgeon has mooted the idea that since London voted to Remain perhaps it could make an alliance with Scotland to do so. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds – Hong Kong for example is now part of China but has some different trading rules.
I am very sad for the UK and England. The UK will soon no longer exist and England will become a tiny insignificant country. N.Ireland will quite rightly pair up with the Republic of Ireland, Scotland will separate and join the EU, and Wales, well they voted Leave but after Scotland has left it will hardly make any difference if they stay or go.
The UK may be able to survive outside the EU, but how well will England (and Wales) on its/their own?
I do think people forget how difficult life was before free movement and trade was allowed, but, equally, politicians in UK and Europe ignored or ridiculed the fears of much of their populace instead of addressing them.
As for me a Brit/English in France. I suspect I simply have to get a Carte de Séjour as I did when I worked here about 30 years ago, I don’t think France is going to boot anybody out. Although I am (and seriously) thinking about changing citizenship to French, or even Scottish if allowed (I have a Scottish ancestor too). It depends how awkward life becomes or doesn’t become after Brexit. Changing may also open up new problems, of course, such as when filling in forms for Nationality which is sometimes meant as Citizenship, sometimes not.
The sadder point is that I think that this might have given the EU the kick it needed to make profound change. That will benefit Europe but Britain (or England) will be out of it and won’t benefit.
Perhaps in several years’ time, after the dust has settled, a new and different arrangement can be made with the EU (although it took 10 years to join in the first place), but in the short term, to stop other countries wanting to leave the EU, it will have to be shown that it is not a good idea. The UK would do the same if it was the other way round.
Now the UK has to bear the cost of leaving and of the years of work devoted to changing laws and negotiating new deals and treaties that won’t have the same leverage and will probably be done in haste by people who have no clue how to negotiate well.
It also has wider ranging negatives, such as the environment and how farm animals are treated (I support Compassion in World Farming). When all together, laws can be made, campaigns can be fought that cross Europe. How long would it take to negotiate things like that between every individual country?
I think it is a long way off but I actually don’t have a problem with the idea of Europe becoming a federal state like the US, but with each country/state obviously having far more of an individual identity and culture. But the EU would have to be accountable to each person on the street long before that.
But enough of the woes. Being a Brit, even if abroad, I want the best for my native country too and so everyone who wanted Remain has to move on from that and look at the future more positively.
So more than ‘God help you’, I truly wish you well UK and England.