Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Very Merry Brexit

So St Theresa of May has finally signed the dratted letter to invoke Article 50. We’ll be into that Red-White-and-Blue Brexit any time this afternoon, then. Possibly even before cucumber sandwiches are served in the Hice of Commons, accompanied, or not, by a handsome silver pot of Earl Gwey.

Even now, despite That Letter having been signed and ritually hand-delivered, the UK is still part of the European Union, and we will still be a member for something like another 2 years. All the directives and regulations voted on by our MEPs (sometimes even by N. Farage) that have been adopted by our British Parliament, will still be in force, even after the EU agrees to the terms of our exit from the Union. There will be years of legal work to be done to extinguish those laws and replace them with solely British ones.

Until the boot finally hits our red-white-and-blue backside:

We still have a rebate on EU membership fees.
We still have a say, via our MEPs, about what directives and regulations are passed by the EU Parliament.
We are still not in the Euro.
We are still not signatories to the Schengen agreement (ie, – we ALREADY have the tight control of our borders that many Leavers shouted for).
We still don’t have to give benefits to immigrants who’ve just arrived here, even if they are from the EU – not until they have worked for some years and paid into the system (and we then give them less than many other EU countries do).
We still share information with EU states about criminal activity and terrorist organisations via the European Criminal Records Information System.
People still have the right to time off and limited working hours, parental leave, and equal opportunities for men and women.
We still have the right to live, work or study abroad in any of the 27 other EU member countries.
UK students can still (just) study or work in Europe on the Erasmus exchange programme.
Academic research projects are (still, just) funded by EU subsidies.
Rural and deprived areas could still be supported or funded by EU subsidies.
There are still Common Agricultural Policy subsidies for farming (~55% of farm incomes), and green incentives for adopting environmental measures such as tending to wild grassland.
We still have laws to ensure clean seas and beaches, good air quality, protection for endangered species and strict guidelines on the use of genetically modified crops and certain chemicals.
Using a mobile phone doesn’t cost more in fees in other European countries.
20% of our energy should come from renewables by 2020.

What could we be going back to?

Signs saying “No Blacks, No Polish, No Irish, nofuckingimmigrantsofanysort”? We already HAVE tight control of our borders for legal immigration. If what Leavers want is simply No Immigrants at all, umm, the word you need to worry about there is ILLEGAL. Leaving the EU isn’t going to stop illegal immigration.
No EU nationals working here, for instance, in our health service? Or no non-EU nationals? (See the same link.)
No legal equality for LGBTQ and disabled people?
No right to residency for EU born partners of British citizens?
Restoring the use of Imperial measures? I’m of a generation that learned originally to use them, and then had to convert everything to metric (including understanding distances in kilometres and metres for sporting competitions, although car drivers even now still get away with odometers and roadsigns labelled in miles). But we’d already begun metricating before we joined the EEC and we’ve rubbed along all right under a mishmash of measures for the last forty-odd years. It’s hardly worth falling out with the EU over them. Are we now going to re-adopt 240 pennies to a pound and 12 pennies to a shilling; ounces, pounds, stones, hundredweights; acres, rods, poles and perches; pints and gallons; Imperial (or even Whitworth) specifications for engineering? Even I am not old enough or daft enough to try re-imposing that lot on a decimalised population.
Restoring the death penalty for murder? I’m not kidding. A straw poll suggested there are Leavers hankering for its reinstatement, even though we’d already got rid of it well before we joined the EEC (1965).  
All right, that one was silly... but...

But...We Want Our Country Back!

See above...I haven’t been able to fathom out exactly what “our country” might be, that the happy band of Leavers expect to get back. Asking the question of them usually elicits remarks about escaping the rule of “unelected Eurocrats”, ignoring the irony that in Britain our Parliamentary system is topped by an unelected Monarchy and an unelected Hice of Lords, and the fact that all British voters have the right to vote for the MEPs who will represent their region in the European Parliament. If you don’t know who represents your region there or how to ask them to work on your behalf, or how the EU structure works, whose fault is that? 

At the moment, the lack of precise, detailed forward vision in our national policies worries me quite a lot. St Theresa of May needs to do more, for me, than to attempt Churchillian rhetoric at PMQs.

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