Monday, 13 March 2017

Brexit. What a Mess

Following Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon announcing earlier today that she will be seeking a second referendum for Scotland to leave the United Kingdom, we have already heard from the Welsh, whose Plaid Cyrmu leader says 'Welsh independence must be explored'... and also from the Northern Irish, in the shape of Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's leader in the region, who says '...there is an urgent need for a referendum on Irish unity as the British government has "refused to listen" to the majority of people in Northern Ireland over Brexit'.
In short, the only people who appear keen to leave (and this is by no means all of them) are the English. Wouldn't it be easier, as people are beginning to ask, for the English to get it over with, go the whole hog, to leave both the EU and the UK and, in consequence, disappear - as they so earnestly dream - into inconsequentiality?
It must be hard to be a Brexiteer, when the evidence is so clearly against you. Even the racist card won't work any longer - are your roving gangs of skinheads going to resort to stringing up all the Commonwealth immigrants once the Europeans have been deported or obliged to leave?
Odder still are those Brexiteer Brits who live in Spain or France, desperately hoping that that bequiffed Dutch Nazi who's first name sounds like a lavatory cleaning product is going to win the elections there and that somehow, the whole of the European Union is going to collapse like one of Auntie's Yorkshire puddings and then, after the smoke clears, the dispirited Continentals, clutching their berets mournfully in their hands, are going to ask the English for help and advice. Such a cunning plan.
OK, seriously. For those of us ex-pat Brits who live in Spain, things will be hard following the Brexit. At the very, very least, your pound will be worth less (I say 'your', because I don't have any). Your money from the UK will be harder to get and your pension will probably be frozen to 2017 levels. Don't believe me? Remember, if you will, the Winter Heating Allowance. Nobody in Whitehall cares for us, you know.
Then, we can expect holidays to become more expensive, possibly with visas or ESTA approval. Doesn't matter for us, we are already here, watching our Sky TVs with mild concern, but for the family and friends...
Work permits will become the norm. For those of us who work here, that is, 'taking away a job that a Spaniard can do'. The Spanish would have scant reason to treat the Brits differently from how they treat any other non-EU national. We think we are the cleverest, bestest and most wonderful people in the world... but, you know (and you had better sit down for this): no one else does. Perhaps, with the visas and the three (hey, or maybe six) month extension non-legal residents will be allowed (those that aren't on the padrĂ³n and aren't registered with the police), they may find their stay here a little uncomfortable. In the old days, we would cross the frontier and get a stamp in our passport, but now, Europe doesn't have many frontiers, and the Gibraltar one will probably be closed. It sounds like the only thing for it is a quick dash for Dover or Southampton.
Those who are legal, 270,000 or so of us, will probably lose the vote in local elections (depending on whether the British Government agrees a bilateral deal with Spain). Our rare British councillors would, of course, disappear into the history books. We would obviously lose our European vote (for whatever good that's ever done us) as well but, who knows, perhaps the British would give those of us who've been here over fifteen years the right to vote in Westminster.
Cor. Imagine what I could do with that.
We could easily be asked by the Spanish authorities to show a certain amount in the bank and a viable income from abroad - perhaps hold a convertible account at the Unicaja as we did in Franco's times.
I must say, I'm feeling quite nostalgic at the thought of it.
The health card is another issue, and we are all getting a bit older now. No doubt the British embassy would be only to happy to help when we get sick. Perhaps they could organise a whip-round.
So, many of us might be tempted to go 'home', like the old Africa-hands before us. No longer sitting on the terrace at dusk, watching the elephants bathe in the nearby swamp as we enjoy drinking a sundowner or three, but now wandering around Sainsbury's wondering if they have any drinkable wine for under a tenner. To do this, we would need to raise some lolly and sell up the old casa, but there may be a drop in demand: a drop in prices. And, how much is a decent place in London or indeed Wells-next-the-Sea going for these days anyway?
Driving might be hard back in the UK, since we've all finally just about learnt to swerve to the right. But the hardest thing of all will be finding a suitable place to live. Perhaps the British Government would help - get the Poles (before they deport them) to build half a million Quonset huts on Salisbury Plain.
But before all that happens, I expect more than a few of us are going to discover that we have recent Scottish, or Welsh, or Irish ancestors, and we shall be negotiating urgently for a passport.
A useful passport.

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