After five years of Brexit being in the news, you would think that someone could point out something positive about Brexit! Yet every day, there seems to be more and more evidence that leaving the EU was nothing but an unmitigated disaster.
Roll Back the Years
My first trip from England to another part of Europe was in the summer of 1973. It was a driving and camping holiday, and as we arrived in Calais leaving the iconic white cliffs of Dover behind us, I immediately fell in love with the change of scenery and another country. We carried on driving, stopped off in Switzerland and then drove through Italy. There, we spent a wonderful ten days in Naples. By the end of our three weeks or so trip I had become European and have identified myself as staunchly European ever since.
Over the years, my wife and I have imbibed ourselves in the history and culture of everywhere between the Netherlands and Cyprus. Initially travelling as a couple, we were later able to take our three children with and let them experience and adopt that same passion. It wasn’t long before all five us felt European to the core.
A Citizen of the World
Socrates is often quoted as having said: “I am neither Athenian nor Greek but a citizen of the world”. I would like to say that I am a citizen of the world, but my experience has only been of Europe – apart from some wonderful holidays in Egypt – so I easily identify as European.
Of course, it’s good to appreciate where we have come from and be proud of where we live, but extreme nationalism only divides people with so many unfortunate consequences from history and we still see that happening today. Mankind has developed because we have shared ideas and it is only in the sharing that we have a future, if we engender divisions, the human race will be doomed.
The Benefits of the EU
Over the years, the benefits of membership of the EU continued to multiply, only hampered by the reactionary right wing with the support of ignorant fascists like Nigel whatever his name is (perhaps the sole benefit of Brexit is that he has disappeared down that black hole that he should have fallen into a long time ago!)
Brexit and the Impact on My Clients
That’s more than enough about me and my family’s philosophy let’s more on to my business and our clients. As financial planners we have spent many years planning our clients’ futures so that they can live their dreams. Terry wanted to spend his retirement in a warm climate, so he sold up and moved to Spain twenty years ago. Because we were part of the EU, he knew that he could travel freely, receive his state pension (which he had contributed to for forty years), enjoy health support in Spain if he needed it and so on. Now in his late seventies with some health issues, he is being forced to return to England and with limited resources, he is looking for somewhere to rent which is situated not too far from NHS support.
Roz and Norman dreamed of living in France and moved to a lovely village in Normandy where they run their own business. While England was a member of the EU, they could live there indefinitely but now that England is a ‘third country’ with the same status as Columbia or Vietnam they have to prove that they are maintaining a minimum level of income in order to stay in France. Maintaining this income has been particularly difficult during the lockdowns of the last two years and the last time I was in touch; their situation was precarious, and I can’t bear to watch as their lifelong dreams are shattered.
Patricia, a retired head teacher dreamed of spending her winters in a place in Spain and spent her retirement savings on a small place in the southeast of Spain near Murcia. Her ideal was to go out in October and return in April, there was to be no more snow and ice for her during her retirement years! However now that England has second-class status in Spain, she can only visit Europe for 90 days at a time. Under the rules she cannot spend more than 90 days within 180 days abroad. Quite honestly if we had never been a member of the EU, surely we would be moving heaven and earth to become a member so that we could enjoy this freedom as well as many of the other benefits member states have?
Brexit and the Impact on My Business
As a business, we lost our European Passport to advise our clients who live in the EU from the first of January 2021. This has meant that we have become part of the club of UK business who have lost income. Having said that, as a result of becoming a third-rate country, I am more concerned about the tragedy of our clients who have worked, planned, and dreamed (while they were assuming that no one would be as stupid as to give up the benefits of being a member of the EU), to find their dreams shattered.
For many of them, they are in their later years and is almost impossible to find a way back. With the loss of our European passport, we will not be able to help them until they return to the UK and then it will be difficult to know what to say to them or how to help them – maybe we’ll have to have plenty of tissues handy so that we can mourn our loss together.
Brexit and the Impact on My Family
Coming back to the personal, my son-in-law is within that group of people who have for all of his working life been able to travel and work anywhere in Europe. He is a Sound Engineer and works on large productions in theatre and at music venues. It is now so difficult to arrange a theatrical or musical event in Europe that this income has dried up. Occasionally he worked on cruise ships in the Mediterranean but now even those are blocked because they only engage people with ‘European passports’.
I joined the Liberal party in 2016 immediately when they said that they were in favour of having another referendum. My family were in London on the one million plus protests in favour of a referendum, but the extreme right-wing government had deaf ears. If we lived in a true democracy like Germany and other countries, we would not be in the hole that we are in now. This week I listened to a discussion with Conservative Michael Heseltine and Andrew Adonis on the topic, both of them staunch Europeans like myself and it gave me hope that there could be a way back and for England to take its rightful place as a key member of the European Community again. It will be hard slog to get there, and we will have a big battle to fight the offshore millions of the Rees-Moggs in their tax havens who want to shelter their millions of pounds from taxes that the rest of us have to pay, but that’s a story for another day. So now you know my almost unedited feelings about Brexit, how has Brexit impacted you?