Whenever someone utters the word ’emotive subject’, you can safely wager that what they really mean to say is ‘everyone just calm down, please’. Or ‘this topic is probably best avoided’. The subject will often be about money, religion or politics. Or a rage inducing mix of all three. Brexit is an emotive subject. Exceedlingly so. Partly because of the money angle – we’re going to be poorer. And almost everyone, on both sides of the debate, now agrees on that point. But Brexit is emotive beyond the financial implications it will have upon our lives.
If there is to be a second referendum on membership of the EU, as I hope there will be, then prepare for controversy galore. The original question on the ballot paper – This or Not This – may have been vague, but it was simple and the campaigning straightforward. I can think of a number of significant and unavoidable differences next time round that will rustle a few feathers. The most obvious complication being caused by a potential third choice on the menu – May’s eventual deal with the EU, when and if that ever comes. Remain, Leave Hard or Leave Deal.
In 2016, the UK held a referendum on our membership of the EU. Problem number one: the question was vague. It was a this or not this binary option. At no point was a choice offered on the wide spectrum of possibilities encompassed by the not this option. But that’s not to say that the various Leave campaigns failed to provide opinions on what they believed would happen. They were often contradictory, regularly disreputable and sometimes just downright untruthful. But a picture was painted, even if the result did rather resemble a Rorschach test. A test that elicited visions of joy and prosperity from 17 million participants, and doom and gloom from the other 16 million people who took part.
Today, even as I type this, a group of toffs are holed up at Chequers trying to decide which of the latest combination of fudged trade and customs plan they would like the EU to reject. Some might suggest that Theresa May’s Brexit plans are beginning to look like the Rocky saga – implausible, badly scripted, going on far too long. Others might suggest it’s more of a Rocky Horror Picture Show – fantasy from the 1970s. I’m hoping today might yet turn out to be more Agatha Christie. You just can’t have that many aristocrats in a country house at one time without someone being murdered. It’s just a matter of who will take the knife in the back. Ooooh, so many good candidates to choose from…
What exactly is the Proper Brexit of which Nigel Farage speaks? Pre-referendum, Nige declared that even the worst case scenario would leave Britain better off economically. He now believes that the Brexit we are heading for will leave us worse off that we currently are within the EU. The truth of the matter is this: Farage’s entire premise was entirely dependent on the EU ‘banging on Britain’s door to do a free trade deal’. And this would happen because ‘the German car industry would force the politicians to do so’. There was no real Plan B (as detailed in one of my most prescient posts of the last decade) should it transpire that the German car industry would not be leading the Brexit negotiations.
I strolled past this marvel of engineering at the weekend. It is truly a thing of beauty, one of the finest cars ever made. I don’t care how quirky it is, I love it. And I’m not alone – it came third in a poll for Car of the Century. Indeed, if I were more mechanically minded, cash rish and with time on my hands, I’d pick an old DS as a restoration project. Some unkind soul might suggest that the first DS was in need of restoration about five minutes after it came off the production line. French cars have that sort of reputation. Regardless, I have neither the know-how, money nor time to embark on such a project. Instead, I settle for photographing other people’s efforts.
In a few short months I will reach something of a milestone. It’s a slightly notional milestone, some would say. It’s not so much that I will turn 46 years of age. It’s more to do with identity and how I see myself. If you were to ask me where I’m from, my answer might depend on where you’re from. To a Mexican, I’m British. To a Scot, I’m English. To an Englisher, I am a Londoner. To a Londoner? Perhaps I’m a bruv. I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I tuned into Eastenders. But anyway, given that I left the capital in favour of the south coast at age 23, in a few short months I will reach the point where I’m just half a Londoner, and then a day later I will become less than half a Londoner, and more than half something-else. If we are to be precise, I will be 50% Londoner, 37% Dorseter and 13% Mexican.
We are reaching the end of the road. We know not exactly where the road ends, as this is unchartered territory – not even Google has a map to get us out of this tangle. There are several ominous looking junctions ahead though. We do know when it will end, providing Brexit doesn’t crash and burn before then. And at the moment, Brexit is careening is a most alarming manner. To the casual observer, it looks almost out of control. Is the driver asleep at the wheel? Will she bail before it goes bang? We might be about to find out.
Would you just have a look at that! Have you ever seen something so fabulous in your life? A beautiful blue sky. My scepticism was, happily, unfounded. Fair weather has arrived and the temperature soared into the mid 20s. In the space of just a few days, barren wintry branches have sprung to life. Hesistant cherry blossom has decided now is the time to turn our dreary streets into a kaleidescope of colour. The sound of the lawnmower has returned, bringing with it one of my favourite smells – freshly cut grass. It’s almost enough to make you sing out loud Lennon and McCartney’s famous ode to our solar friend.
We Brits are now less than one year from exiting the European Union. Sort of. And probably. Should I begin to accept the inevitable and embrace Brexit? Nah. Only when the inevitable is truly and unstoppably inevitable. I’m still holding out for a Breversal. But, just for a change, I thought I’d write a post to highlight the true benefits that Brexit will definitely bring us. Ready?
The end of this month marks a year since the UK invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, setting in motion the two year countdown to our exit. How’s it going so far, you ask? Not so good. Brexit is best described as the undefined, negotiated by the unprepared to deliver the unspecified on behalf of the uninformed. It’s clear that the promises and benefits of the Leave campaign are undeliverable – but they knew that. We clearly do not hold all the cards. It’s clear that the progress of negotiations with the EU amounts to repeatedly kicking a can of worms down the road, for fear of the war of words within the Conservative Party turning in a government toppling revolt.
We’ve just returned from a jolly jaunt to southern Spain with a quick stop off in Portugal for good measure. It was so nice to be able to just drive 15 minutes up the road to our local airport and not have to endure a three hour trek just to get to Heathrow and Gatwick. British based airlines have particularly thrived in Europe, opening up a huge number of new routes from dozens of regional airports. Intense competition has seen prices kept incredibly low. Thank EU.
Is this the future for Britain? Brexit – a half baked ideology, promoted by half wit Nigel, voted for by half the population, most of whom did so half heartedly, half cocked negotiations, cheered on by a half-brained foreign secretary – and we’re not even quite half the way through the Article 50 timeframe. But do you want to know what really worries me? What should worry everybody, Remainer and Brexiter alike? The Conservative party has not a clue how to implement Brexit. Not a single clue. The front benches resort to waffle to desperately avoid anything of substance, fact or import for Continue reading
Today, I go back just a little under eighteen months, to June 21st 2016. This was the last photo I took and published before the EU Referendum. When I pressed that shutter release, the UK looked set to remain in the EU. And Donald Trump was still something of a joke, with the punch line to come at any moment – at his expense. Those were better times. But you can see those dark clouds Continue reading