Build a consensus to remain, Mr Buckland…

Dear Mr. Buckland,

Thank you for your recent email outlining your reasons for voting in favour of your Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Deal.

As became clear last night, there is no appetite in Parliament to support the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit. She attempted to placate the far right elements of your party by imposing unobtainable or mutually exclusive red lines that have merely painted you into a corner that has led to this most humiliating defeat.

You lost because you united a divided Parliament that represents a divided country that is united only in its opposition to your misguided interpretation of a Brexit no-one wants.

The referendum result of 2016 was based on a constituency of 48% of voters who were united (To different strengths and with different motivations) in a single proposal: to remain in the European Union on our current terms.

The 52% who voted to Leave was always a precarious coalition of the discontent, the dispossessed and the disturbed: from those who admired Switzerland or Norway, who believed that “…no-one is talking about leaving the Single Market….”; the safe-seat voters ravished by 40 years of Thatcherism and desperate to have their voice heard for once; the poor sops who entertained the bus-borne idea that the Conservative Party would increase spending on the NHS; to the far-right anarchists and libertarians, those of the ERG and the yellow tabards yelling bile about betrayal, patriotism and democracy, whilst dedicating themselves to making reality Putin’s fantasies.

There never was a single “Will of the People”. The closest approximation was 48% of voters coalescing around retaining our rights as European citizens on our current terms; the one defined proposal offered by that referendum. You and Your Prime Minister have seen homogeneity in that 52% where in reality there was only division, resentment, and cranks and unicorns.

Your Government has failed in its attempt to build a consensus around the desires of extremists in the Tory Party. By lumping together the Anything-Else’s, the None-of-the-Aboves, the Bus-Believers, the Sovrintists, the Norway-Plussers, the Canada-Plussers, the Ukrain-Minussers, the racists, the bored and the trouble-makers, you have wasted two years of possible coalition-building both internally and externally with imperious cakeism and navel-gazing, and squandered the patience and respect of our European partners.

As the European Parliament Election campaigns warm up, It is time face reality; to recognise that no EU27 Leader wants to be associated with your lame-duck loser of a Prime Minister, that there will be no more favours, no more explanatory letters. Expect cold-shoulders and contempt from now on.

It is time for MP’s of all colours show some leadership, to grow up, accept the mistakes and hubris of the last 3 years and to build a consensus around the 48% who voted positively in favour of a known set of defined proposals, to remain in the EU.

If we learned anything yesterday it is that you will never succeed in pleasing more than half of the 52% with any one, single, concrete proposal. Stop paralysing the country with your failed attempts to appease the unappeasable.

You have 72 days to stop the madness, your reputation depends upon it, because come March 30th you will have to be very sure that it was worth throwing away our opt-outs and our rebates. As GDP falls and investment dries up unemployment rises, inflation picks up, the 52% will melt away faster than collaborators after an occupation, leaving only those politicians who allowed it to happen as the reviled perpetrators.

Yours sincerely,

etc..

Freedom of Movement: What should I do?

I have written to my MP in the UK:  Robert Buckland MP, asking him for his advice on my situation in light of his government’s Brexit Deal.

Dear Mr. Buckland

I moved from Swindon to Toledo in 2005. I am a UK citizen. I vote as an Overseas Elector in Swindon South and will do again in any UK National Election or Referendum for as long as I am able. 

Your government’s decision to prioritise the removal of our Freedom of Movement threatens my ability to work and provide for my family.

Since moving to Spain I have worked in corporate IT jobs that require me to travel and work across the the EU, often travelling at short notice and without delays, visas or work permits to offices and customers across the EU. 

When I lose my Freedom of Movement as a result of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by your government, it is probable that I will no longer be eligible for my job at my current employer or any similar role in Spain (there is no department or process for managing visas or sponsoring work permits. It would be an unecessary overhead they are not interested in bearing).

What should I do?

The options I see open to me are:

  1. Accept the reduced Spain-centric role that may be offered to me: 40% reduction in salary. I would need to sell my house and limit the plans for my daughter’s university education to the local university, rather than doing the course she wants to follow in Madrid.
  2. Give up IT and start teaching english: 60% reduction in salary. as above but I would work locally.
  3. Apply for Spanish citizenship: I could maintain my life more or less as-is, but I would need to renounce my UK citizenship. Presumably I would then be prevented from returning to the UK for prolonged periods if I needed to care for my parents, as I would need to show an ability to provide for myself in terms of healthcare.
  4. Move back to the UK. We have EU friends living in the UK, who feel the hostility that your government and its cheerleaders in the media are stoking towards them on a daily basis. Not something I can recommend to my wife and children.

Ending Freedom of Movement is an unnecessary misguided, small-minded attack on normal hard-working working people across the UK and Europe. We contribute to our host countries in infinite ways, this is the most hurtful and painful upheaval that a government can impose upon its citizens.

I would be interested to hear what your advice to me would be. Should I renounce my UK Citizenship to maintain my life in the UK?

Is selling my family home and downsizing to account for my diminished status and earning capacity as a UK Citizen in Spain part of your Brexit Dividend?

Will you vote to put your government’s Brexit deal to a People’s Vote so that it can be endorsed as the “Will of the People” against the other options of Leaving with No Deal or Remaining in the EU?

Yours sincerely,

Simon Pike.

Boris and the Unity of Europe

In some kind of Jungian counter-projection spasm, Boris Johnson is using Project Fear to sell his perceived benefits of Brexit on the basis that the EU wants political unity . At some level his government clearly feels threatened by unity, and so prefers the comfortable tantrum of discord, division and divestment.

The founding fathers of the European Union did not create the common market to tear down barriers to trade but to pursue a political project.

As opposed to the disunity that shaped the European experience of the last century?

Of course the European Union is a political project. It is a project to put aside the petty, destructive nationalisms of the 20th Century and build a sense of commonality and community using education, culture and business to bring people together, to pool our resources and to align our interests. To foment peaceful cooperation and neighbourly partnerships rather than competition. The EU’s very founding as the European Coal and Steel Community was an attempt to unify access to the raw materials of war and to nullify any one member’s advantage or ability to wage war on its neighbours. You can’t get more political than that. We tried competitive disunity across Europe for 2,000 years and it led to a constant cycle of conquest and resentment, bloodshed, violence and poverty.

Despite its obvious democratic deficit the European Union is the only body currently capable of standing up for its citizens and defending the integrity of its internal markets in the face of rapacious international capitalism. The EU governs the behaviour of these bullying trans-national behemoths, generally in the interest maintaining of a productive healthy environment in which to do business. The EU has enforced rules and defended its citizens against the overbearing power of Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook and Volkswagen, in ways that British politicians (with the admirable exception of Sadiq Khan’s stand against Uber) have singularly failed to govern. Those who flout the rules of the EUs internal market should rightly lose access to the second largest consumer economy on earth.

The EU is undoubtedly a force for unity in Europe and Boris Johnson and the English nationalists with whom he marches are doing a sterling job of promoting that unity to an extent that no one could have ever imagined.