🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Bee’s View

I was thrilled with the guest posts on Brexit from Roger, Colette, Frank and Gary, and thought that project had likely run its course for the moment, when my friend Bee asked if she could contribute a post.  I immediately jumped on that opportunity, for Bee’s perspective will, no doubt, be significantly different than the previous four.  You see, Bee is a German national who has been living in the UK for quite some time … not sure how long … and she fears being forced to leave and return to Germany when Brexit, deal or no-deal, is complete.  Bee’s post is heartfelt, and I think presents a side we haven’t seen before, so please take a few minutes to read her tale.  Thank you so much, dear Bee!


GoodreadsBeeYesterday, I read the views on Brexit from several of my fellow bloggers here on Jill’s blog. Thanks very much, Jill, for giving us the platform to express our experiences and views. All of their posts and many of the comments taught me a lot. But it felt that the view from an EU immigrant to the UK on Brexit was missing. So, I decided to give my pound’s worth of opinion too.

I am sorry, but this will be a bit messy because my mind is a jungle, and Brexit is very personal for me. For me, Brexit is not a theoretical mind game that might or might not bring me advantages of any sort. Brexit means in a worst-case scenario, the existence I have built here is going to be destroyed.

The worst-case scenario would be, I apply for “Settled Status” which allows EU citizens to stay in the UK with mostly the same rights as before, but were rejected. Currently, that means I would have to leave the UK within four weeks. We have a house with a mortgage and jobs here. How do you create a new life within four weeks?

Let’s assume we would go to my home country, Germany. Many think that because I am German I would get help from there but nope: for the last 12 years I have paid my taxes and social contributions here in Britain, so why should they give me anything? I am not sure if we could get any help from the UK, but chances are we would not.

Germany is, like the UK, interested in “useful” immigrants who can work, pay taxes and bring in skills that are needed. My husband has a back problem and at nearly 60 wants to settle down and not to start all over again. It is unlikely he would easily find a job in Germany or elsewhere. We also do not have a big bank account to cushion any decision we would have to make. He would go with me despite all, but he would leave his children and all security behind but what for? Because some people don’t believe the EU gives Britain any benefits?  So please bear with me if I am sarcastic, angry and very scared.

I read in some of the previous posts about Brexit that immigration isn’t the main reason for voting to leave. However, to me, this looks differently maybe because of where we live. Our home is Norfolk which is a rather rural county in the East of England. Most jobs are in agriculture and tourism unless you are in Norwich, the only city in Norfolk. Norwich has a university, a thriving tech industry and it probably doesn’t surprise you that Norwich mainly voted to remain while the rest of Norfolk mainly voted to leave.

Both tourism and agriculture are heavily dependent on seasonal EU workers. To those Norfolk residents, who do not have a job, it appears that EU workers “steal” the jobs they feel are theirs. Since the referendum, the influx of seasonal EU workers seems to have decreased though. But it doesn’t look like the vacancies are taken by jobless leave voters. They are simply not filled while farmers and restaurant owners say that they just can’t find staff that is qualified enough and/or is willing to work the necessary hours. The same goes for care staff, nurses and doctors by the way.

Leave voters I know, do say that immigration was a huge reason why they voted to leave. They mention how EU immigrants come with filled-in forms to get benefits while British people can’t get any. I have not researched how much any of this is true. However, I have tried to get benefits this August after nearly 1 1/2 years without a job. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I only qualified for 6 months of job seekers allowance. To get this my husband had to sign up as well even though he had a job. The British benefits system is complicated and has changed a lot in recent years that’s why it would go too far to explain that as well.

On top, I had to prove that I had the right to get any benefit in the UK. This entailed an interview with someone from the jobcentre where I had to bring all the proof I had that I didn’t spend all my time in Germany or elsewhere. I also needed to prove that I work and live here. I was told, I would need to tell them every time I moved within the UK, how often and when exactly I left to go on holiday and whatever else that person felt they needed to know to grant me the benefit. At that point, I gave up because I can hardly remember what I did last week, let alone remember when I went on holiday ten years ago. Also, my husband would not have to prove all this. Both of us were rather appalled that I would need to be investigated like this, especially as they have my social security number. They know what I earned and where I worked.

20190218_120157I also think they probably know better than I when I was abroad: There are only three ways to come and go from the UK: you fly, you use a ferry, or you use the channel train. In all occasions, you have to show your passport because Britain did not sign the Schengen agreement. You can travel without your passport being checked in European countries that have signed the Schengen agreement. Even when we went to Switzerland which isn’t in the European Union but has an agreement on travel and trade with the EU, we didn’t show our passports once at the Swiss border. However, we had to show them when we left and came back to Britain. So surely they know how often I left the UK?

What surprises me about the Brexit debate, in general, is the view most people seem to have about the EU. For most people, not only in the UK but also all over Europe, membership in the EU mainly seems to be a question of business and economy. However, one of the main reasons why the EU was founded after the second world war was Peace. Europe had seen wars between its countries for centuries, and it culminated in WWII. The founding fathers and mothers of the European Union had experienced the destruction and human cost this war had brought, so their aim was firstly peace, and secondly a thriving economy for all of us. In all this struggle of a changing world, we do forget how important peace is for our countries wellbeing.

Peace is what the European Union mainly symbolises for me. To me, it is the guarantee that Europeans work together for peaceful and prosperous countries.  Yes, this Union of now 27 countries is far from perfect. But maybe it would be a good idea for European voters not to practice protest votes which result in getting people into the European parliament who are against everything EU? Surely if you vote for someone like Nigel Farage (who, by the way, had a German wife, and now has a French girl-friend, but campaigned against the EU for ages) to be your Member of European Parliament (MEP) you can’t be surprised that there are bad decisions made for your country on EU level?

Many European voters use the EU elections to vent frustration about many topics. But the EU-critical MEP’s they vote in, of course, do not do a fully constructive job. Most won’t make anything done in the EU look positive. So much of the anti-EU sentiment in any European country today might be non-existent if we only had MEP’s who are devoted European Unionists.  This is not a particularly British problem either. All European countries face anti-European tendencies, and I often said after the referendum: “If Germany had this referendum it would have gone the same way. German politicians are just not so stupid to do such a referendum.”

The EU certainly needs improvement, and most EU politicians are fully aware of it. However, they can’t get on with that job because the whole union is currently occupied with getting Brexit done. And the stakes are high on both sides. I recently read that Germany would lose about 100,000 jobs if the EU and Britain would not be able to strike a deal. That is a lot of jobs and can get any politician in trouble. But as far as I can see, most Germans think: “No matter the cost and no matter how flawed, the European Union is worth it!” And that seems to be the opinion of most Europeans outside of the UK.

I am fully aware that my points are just a tiny little part of the whole complex problem of Brexit and not very well researched or explained. To me, it is not only disenfranchised jobless voters who want to get rid of any immigrant, or lazy politicians who follow their agenda and not the good for the people who voted for them. Brexit is the expression of humans who feel that their life and their society does not offer them the possibility to live the best possible life. The reasons for this are many, and no one quite understands them, so many look for easy answers. In this case: “If only we could leave the EU all will be well”.

Unfortunately, easy answers never solve complex problems, and it hurts me to see the country I chose as my home and which I love, in this unholy mess, that might never be solved. It hurts me to see families, friends and communities so divided, so angry and so lost. But maybe this pain and division are necessary for us to become open for previously unthought solutions that let us live our best possible lives. I so very much hope for this!

*** Note to Readers:  Bee asked me to add the following information to her post:

I have lived in the UK since 2007 and have worked at the same company from the beginning until March 2018 when my mental health took a turn to the worst partly because of the insecurity of Brexit. Since September I am working in a new job.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Gary’s View

When I first asked for guest posts from my Canadian and UK friends, Gary generously said he would write one for me, but as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way of the best laid plans.  This morning, I was thrilled when I woke up and saw this one in my inbox!  This is the fourth guest post on the topic of Brexit from a citizen of the UK, and tackles the issue from a slightly different perspective than previously done by Roger, Colette, and Frank.  Thank you so much, Gary, for your time and effort, and for sharing your views on this multi-faceted issue!


The World Carl Predicted

“Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time—when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”

The great Carl Sagan wrote this in 1995. I think even he would have been shocked at how quickly his prophecy has come true. Many industries are broken. Technology is in the hands of the few with our privacy compromised. So many feel alienated from society.  Our political systems are increasingly ineffective and compromised. Reason has been replaced by self-interest. That is America today. Unfortunately, you can substitute the United Kingdom for America here. I suspect a growing list of countries can slot in here. It’s a sobering thought.

“… we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness”

In the United Kingdom the country is imploding. It has the feel of a society spiralling out of control towards civil unrest. The middle ground is silent. Political debate has been ditched in favour of fake news, lies and threats. Media is becoming propaganda led. Where Extremists go unchallenged and the country is obsessed on one issue – nothing else matters. That subject, Brexit, is no longer justified in terms of benefits for the population. It’s Brexit couched in the narrative of the 1930s.

In the United States effective government has been replaced by a modern-day Nero. Just replace a fiddle with a twitter account. In both countries Climate Science is scorned in favour of late night claret-fuelled meetings with the leaders of the fossil fuel industries. Where our political elite talk of making our countries great again while they feather their nests. They spout increasingly vile racist and inflammatory language.

Recently the United Kingdom woke to the Leave Campaigns new slogan.

“We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed about by a Kraut.”

The person the leave campaign are abusing is someone who was a distinguished research scientist who became the first female German Chancellor and has successfully served 4 terms. Compare that to the people behind the slogan who are basically narrow-minded racists funded by profiteers (Hedge Fund Investors). But that’s the problem in the UK. Brexit has allowed the extremists to come out from the shadows and drive national policy. As Sagan would say – ‘almost without us noticing’. But sadly, it’s not by chance. It’s fostered at Government level. Our puppet PM Johnson views his best way to personal success is by crashing out of Europe. Riding the anti-Europe/Little England bandwagon. His Puppet Master Cummings (the PM’s Advisor) has a clear game plan. To pour petrol on the simmering schism. To marginalise and vilify anyone who gets in their way. Be that MPs, Doctors, Business Leaders, Judges and people who voted to stay in Europe. We are all branded traitors. Enemy of the people. The only people who count being the 17 million who voted to leave. Let’s not forget the UK population is 64 million.

So maybe our PM should leave the Brexit debate to the grownups and go back to doing what he does best – providing public funded favours to his girlfriends. We can then halt the attempt to drive a country purely fuelled on superstition and hate into the darkness. We desperately need a viable way out of this mess. I voted to remain but I have come to the conclusion that we now do need to leave in some form. I just can’t see how a new referendum will bring healing to this nation. I fear it will add more impetus to the extremists. A potentially violent campaign ending with one side further alienated. The alienated provide rich pickings for the extremist vultures. It’s a recipe for further prolonged conflict and social disaster.

We need to find compromise. Middle ground that can unite the moderates in both camps. So, for me it’s Brexit but with the important compromise. Agreeing to the key principle of freedom of movement. I have never understood how the Government has championed the ending of this freedom as some sort of huge win for our people. How can taking away the right of British citizens to travel freely to 26 countries be seen as a step forward. As soon as we accept the principle of freedom of movement then many of the current negotiating logjams are removed.  It then opens up the prospect of more fruitful negotiations with our friends in Europe. Borders, trade and travel continue to operate effectively. We can then concentrate on finding the right balance between increased political freedoms and essential Europe wide partnerships.

This would provide a bridge between the moderates on both Leave and Remain sides. It would also provide a bridge between the older generations who voted more heavily in favour of leaving and the younger generations who largely voted to remain.

Unfortunately, this is not a time for building bridges rather it’s the age of WALL-building. Putting up barriers again. It’s the time when doing the right thing for your country is an increasingly alien concept. It’s the age of Self Gain. Where policy is driven by Hedge Fund profits and the location of Hotels. Where the Brexit financial backers are scheduled to make billions from a crash after betting against the pound. Where US foreign policy is determined by the location of Trump Hotels and his business interests. Where the removal of citizen rights is applauded. Where former war on terror allies are thrown to the wolves.

These are dark times driven by hate, greed and superstition. When one of the few lights is a growing climate movement driven forward by a brave teenager vilified as being both demonic and dangerous by the establishment. When you hear that language, you know the few are worried. Just maybe we can continue accelerate this movement and we can save our planet. And at the same time the seismic changes this would cause would help save our individual nations. Sweep away the Darkness and lead us all to a better place. I’m sure Carl Sagan would sign up to that.


Note to Readers:  Thanks so much to all who participated in this project, either by writing a post or through comments.  The project had value beyond what I initially envisioned, and those of us living outside the UK have learned so much from Roger, Colette, Frank and Gary.  We are all hoping for the best possible outcome at the end of this month.  Hugs to all!

Burning The Constitution

The United States is a secular nation, meaning that the government is officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion.  It means that the government does not favour one religion over another, that people do not have more or less rights based on their religion, that all citizens are treated equally, regardless of their religion or non-religion.

The United States Constitution is the foundation for the nation’s government.  It is the source of law and order.  It is the guidebook, so to speak, for how this nation’s governing bodies will deport themselves, and outlines the rights and responsibilities of each branch of the government.  While the Constitution does not use the phrase “separation of church and state”, what it does say in the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment is this …

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now that I’ve made that perfectly clear, I hope, let us take a look at what Attorney General William Barr, the man who leads the Department of Justice, had to say on Friday, when asked to speak at Notre Dame University:

“We must be vigilant to resist efforts by forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon our exercise of our faith. This is not decay. This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion & traditional values.”

The head of the department tasked with overseeing the law and upholding the Constitution doesn’t even understand the Constitution?

Christians in this nation comprise some 70.6% of the population, down from 75% just two years ago.  Of that, evangelicals comprise 25.4% of the population.  Now, by Barr’s presumption, does this mean that our government only represents 70.6% of the people in this nation, and the other 29.4% of us are sh*t out of luck?  Now, if that be the case, doesn’t it follow that those of us in the 29.4% should not be required to pay taxes, since the government we are paying those taxes to does not represent us?

William Barr was far out of line in his speech and seems to have interpreted the Constitution according to his own values, or perhaps, like his ‘boss’, he has never read nor understood the document that he took an oath to uphold.

Barr, however, is not alone in cherry-picking the parts of the document he wishes to support, while ignoring the rest.  Take a look at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he of rather questionable morals whose nomination to the bench was shoved through at mach speed, despite credible allegations of sexual assault.

“But maybe Nixon was wrongly decided — heresy though it is to say so. Nixon took away the power of the president to control information in the executive branch by holding that the courts had power and jurisdiction to order the president to disclose information in response to a subpoena sought by a subordinate executive branch official. That was a huge step with implications to this day that most people do not appreciate sufficiently…Maybe the tension of the time led to an erroneous decision.” – Brett Kavanaugh, 1999

Say What???  It took away the power …???  Let’s be perfectly clear here … the president is not granted by the U.S. Constitution unlimited power to keep secrets and act on his own to make deals and agreements that are not in the best interest of this nation and its people!  The president is granted broad authority in certain areas, but … the legislative and judicial branches are not only granted the authority, but tasked with the responsibility, to provide oversight to the executive branch.  The purpose being to hold the president accountable for his actions.

“The House of Representatives … shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”Article I, Section 2, Clause 5

“The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States; but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.”Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7

constitution-dummiesI think that for a person with a law degree, as both Barr and Kavanaugh as well as all of Trump’s lawyers, many members of Congress and others in the administration have — including, believe it or not, Kellyanne Conway — this should be clear enough.  If you and I can understand it … why can’t the lawyers?

We have layer upon layer upon layer of corruption and dishonesty in our federal government in quantities never before seen.  Trump claimed he would drain the swamp, but instead he has further infested it with lethal, poisonous creatures … swamp monsters, as it were.  Being a republican or a democrat is largely irrelevant, but being dishonest, hiding things from the people they work for (us), and being self-serving are crimes.  It is time … past time … for us to hold these people accountable.

Time For Some ‘Toons!

It’s been another of those weeks that was filled with ‘breaking news’, most of it angst-inducing.  These days, as never before at least in my recollection, has it been so difficult, nearly impossible, to keep up with it all.  To a large extent, perhaps that is the intent of the small mind in the Oval Office.  I have no less than five posts started, but before I can finish one, something else pops up and the result is I cannot focus at all now, so … I decided it’s time for a cartoon break!


Last Monday morning, after a telephone conversation between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, Donald Trump announced that he would be pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus leaving our Kurdish allies to fend for themselves.  Since then, hundreds of Kurds have been slaughtered by the Turkish army.  Nothing funny about the situation, but the cartoonists sum it up well …

kurdskurds-2kurds-3kurds-4Thank you Kurdskurds-6kurds-7kurds-8kurds-9


And, of course the other big news concerns Trump’s other phone conversation, this one with President Zelenskyy of the Ukraine, whereby he attempted to bully, blackmail, or bribe Zelenskyy into ‘digging up dirt’ on one of Trump’s potential competitors in next year’s election, Joe Biden.  A whistleblower, concerned about the call and other issues, came forward, and it was this that at long last motivated the House to open a formal impeachment inquiry …

impeach-2impeach-4impeach-5ukrainewhistle-blower


Just under three weeks ’til Hallowe’en, folks.  Those kids who are hoping to score some treats at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue might want to re-think that plan …

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191009.tifimpeach-1-a


We all know of Trump’s ego … it goes beyond ego, really … narcissism, megalomania … I’ve never seen someone who thought himself to be so superior …

trump-egoBruce Plante Cartoon: Trump's new doortrump-ego-3


A last one … this, I believe, sums up the entire past three years …

trump-smoking-gun


Enjoy your weekend!

If we don’t vote, we’ll get HIM again

I know thirteen months seems like a long time, but … November 3rd 2020, election day in the U.S., will be here before you know it. It is not too soon to start thinking about some things. Oh sure, most who are reading this know that they will vote for the democratic nominee, no matter who it is. But what about those who won’t likely vote? Just this morning I saw a tweet that said if Biden is the nominee, she won’t vote. What, if anything, can we do to motivate and encourage everyone to vote? Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a thoughtful and thought-provoking post about this and I encourage you to read it, think about it. We’ll chat more soon, for I have some ideas. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

I can’t remember a time where the news cycle is so fluid that you can’t even keep up with it. The media is undoubtedly earning their stripes in the era of Trump. When one scandal erupts over here, another one erupts over there. I go on Twitter for 10 minutes, and multiple stories are breaking all at once.

Is this what we signed up for? Sadly, yes, it is. According to Pew Research, Americans are one of the least active voting populations among developed countries, ranking 26 out of 32 countries in voter turnout. Belgium, for example, saw over 87 percent of voters turn out it 2014. Compare that to the approximately 56 percent who turned out in the 2016 American election, and it’s tough not to conclude that there’s a sizable portion of our population who are not engaged in our democracy.

And in 2016, that disengagement hurt…

View original post 486 more words

Filosofa’s Thoughts

Tonight, I was in an introspective mood, doing some thinking about where this nation appears to be headed and about the people of this nation who seemingly applaud the direction we are taking.  In the midst of my introspection, came the news that the so-called president of this country was once again conducting a rally and that he was, once again, denigrating those of us who speak or have spoken against him or his actions.  The rally was in Minnesota where he said of Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden …

“He was only a good Vice President because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

This isn’t Dave down at the corner bar talking after a few beers, my friends … this is the ‘man’ who was elected to lead a nation of 330 million people.  At the same rally, he slammed Ilhan Omar, the U.S. House representative from Minnesota, saying …

“How do you have such a person representing you in Minnesota? I’m very angry at you people. She is a disgrace to our country, and she is one of the big reasons that I am going to win, and that the Republican Party is going to win, Minnesota in 13 months.”

But do you know what disgusts me the most, my friends?  At that last malicious statement by Trump, his audience stood and begin chanting “Four more years” and “Send her back”.

That’s right, my friends … a large number of the people of this nation still, despite his rants, his foul language, his illegalities, his anti-humanitarian rhetoric and policies, his self-serving nature, still find something to relate to … something to cling to.  And that is what disturbs me most.  People who I once thought I knew, people I once called “friend”, support the speech and actions of a person who is … a lawbreaking, lowlife bucket of scum.  And they want him to lead this nation … straight over the cliff or into the iceberg, whichever analogy you prefer.  I find that I can no longer respect or even tolerate those who would support a president whom I cannot respect.  And this led me to some thoughts … thoughts which, if you care to listen, I will share with you tonight.

  • I think that when the person who sits at the highest level of our government invites foreign nations to create chaos and promote falsehoods in our elections, as Trump did in 2016 and is doing already for the upcoming 2020 election, we cannot respect that person, for he is breaking the law, undermining the Constitution, and acting out of self-interest, not the interest of the nation.

  • I think that when the person who occupies an office that has been respected for more than 200 years stoops to calling any who don’t agree with him names such as ‘pompous ass’, ‘fat Jerry’, ‘nervous Nancy’, ‘lyin’ Ted’, ‘shifty Schiff’, and more, that person cannot expect and does not deserve the respect of the nation.

  • I think that when the person who was elected to lead a nation of 330 million people turns his back on that nation’s allies, pulls out of crucial previously negotiated treatises, and leaves other allies to certain death, that person loses the respect not only of the people of the nation, but of the people of the globe.

  • I think that when the person who supposedly ‘leads’ a nation disregards environmental threats to not only the nation, but the entire globe, and instead provides incentive to wealthy industry barons to further decimate the planet, that person has earned the scorn and wrath of every person on the planet.

  • I think that when the person elected to the highest office in the nation lies, cheats, steals and then bullies those who would hold him accountable, we cannot possibly have any respect or compassion for this person.

  • I think that any person who has taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of a nation, then breaks that oath on a near-daily basis, does not deserve the honour of the position to which he was elected.

  • I think that a person who holds an office that historically has been internationally respected, but yet praises strongman dictators while stabbing that nation’s allies in the back, can only be considered a traitor who deserves no respect.

  • I think that any person who defends a president guilty of the above trespasses, cannot claim to be a good person, a patriot, or a concerned citizen, for he or she is defending a creature who has no concern for the nation and its people.

In the words of writer and friend John Pavlovitz …

“I just want a President with compassion, intelligence, and simple human decency.”

And in the words of Filosofa …

“I just want a president I can respect and trust. I don’t need to like him, but I need to be able to respect him.”

Tonight, as I write this, I sit here with tears in my eyes and a very heavy heart, for we do not have a president that meets either John’s standards or my own.  We have a dishonest, deceitful, bullying ‘person’ in the White House who is leading us quickly down a path to … what?  Destruction, certainly, but … will this nation survive intact?  I once thought I knew this nation, thought I understood our government even with its flaws, and thought I liked the people I called ‘friend’.  If our friends and neighbors who are still wearing their slightly frayed maga hats, who are still playing that somewhat warped “he tells it like it is” record, don’t take off their tinted glasses and find a functional mind and a conscience, if he is allowed a second term, I think this nation will not come out in 2024 only slightly damaged, but completely destroyed.  I shan’t be here to see it.

🇬🇧 The Brexit Conundrum — Frank’s View

When I first came up with the idea for this project, soliciting guest posts from my readers in the UK and Canada offering their views of what is happening in their countries today, I had no idea it would elicit the wonderful response it has!  I am pleased today to offer another post from a UK reader that offers a slightly different tone and perspective than we have seen in either Roger’s or Colette’s excellent posts.  I don’t know about you guys, but I am learning so much from these posts — and the comments!  Please welcome today Frank Parker, a citizen of the UK living in Ireland.  Thank you, Frank!


Why Brexit is Impossible

My Perspective

I have been a proponent of the European ‘project’ ever since I was old enough to take an interest in national and international politics. I recall the UK’s repeated applications to join what was then the 6-member EEC in the early 1960s, and disappointment at our repeated rejection by France. In 1988 I became a founder member of the Liberal Democrats, having previously been a member of the Liberal Party. I served both parties as a councillor at county and district level. During that time, I had the opportunity to visit some of the EU institutions and to learn something about the way they operate.

Upon retirement, 13 years ago this month, I left the UK and came to live in Ireland. My son, his Irish wife and their daughter were already here. So, I am one of the approximately 3 million UK citizens domiciled in another EU country.

I believe passionately in the ideals that underpin the EU. In the years of the cold war it provided a bastion of political and economic strength against the might of the Soviet Union. Of course, NATO provided the military backing, but economic and political unity were, I believe, key components of the defence of Western civilisation against communism. With the collapse of the Soviet Union it was important that the countries of Eastern Europe, released from the yoke of Russian domination, were welcomed into the EU and provided with the opportunity to realise the benefits of life in a free society.

There is far more, culturally and historically, that unites us than divides us.

We now face new threats, from climate change to the rise of China as a global power. European solidarity therefore remains a priority.

The European Union

The EU is first and foremost an international trading bloc. The Single Market ensures that goods traded between the member nations are produced to an agreed set of standards in circumstances that minimise the exploitation of workers. The Customs Union, by removing tariffs on goods traded between member nations, removes the need for customs barriers at the borders between those nations.

At the same time the UK is able to take advantage of free trade agreements reached between the EU and around 70 other nations in order to trade with them on favourable terms which will need to be renegotiated if the UK leaves.

In common with other members, the UK has secured exemptions from certain of the rules and regulations that enforce these standards. It is not a member of the Eurozone, retaining its own currency. It is not a member of Schengen, a scheme that facilitates visa free travel, residence and work throughout those nations that are signed up to it.

Instead, the UK, as a member of the Single Market, is obliged to permit freedom of movement of people for the purpose of work and education. This does not extend to the automatic right to social welfare payments. The citizens of one-member nation, whilst resident in another, must be economically self-supporting. If, after a reasonable period, they have not found a job they are obliged to leave. The UK government chose not to enforce this aspect of the legislation which many UK citizens were, and, it seems, still are unaware of.

Similarly, when Eastern European nations became members there was a transition period during which existing members were permitted to control the number of workers they accepted from those nations. Again, the UK government chose not to apply those controls, probably under pressure from business sectors, such as agriculture and hospitality, that saw an opportunity to exploit the availability of comparatively cheap labour to do jobs that UK citizens were unwilling to take on.

Sometimes such migrant workers were employed in breach of EU laws of which ordinary citizens were unaware so that, once again, the EU was blamed for creating conditions that were actually well within the ability of the UK government to control had it chosen to do so.

The Budget

The fundamental principle under which the EU budget operates is that the richest nations contribute and the poorest regions, some of which are within the richest nations, receive. The simple theory behind this is that by helping the poorer nations and regions to develop and, thereby, improve the economic welfare of their citizens, the possibility of conflict over resources is reduced. It is a principle with which not everyone agrees and is certainly one of the factors underlying the desire of some UK citizens to see the UK leave.

So long as it can be shown that supported schemes meet specific criteria, the way that EU funds are distributed and spent is left to the recipient national or local governments. Thus, it is unfair to blame the EU if such funds are used to support unnecessary or inappropriate schemes. They are intended to be used for social and economic infrastructure developments that increase the ability of the recipient region to attract private investment that creates long term employment. If you want the EU to exercise greater control over such spending you need more, not fewer bureaucrats, and to give up, not reclaim, local control.

The Exercise of Democracy

In most EU member states elections are conducted using systems that produce a result in which the number of representatives of each party in parliament or legislative assembly is roughly proportional to the number of votes cast for that party. This is also true of the EU institutions. The practical effect of this is that, more often than not, no one party has a parliamentary majority and two or more parties have to come together to agree a programme that is broadly in the national interest. That also tends to mean a centrist approach, either centre-left or centre-right. The extremes at either end of the political spectrum have little say. It should be no surprise that I, as a centrist, approve of such systems and the results they produce.

In the UK, however, the system regularly produces a majority for one party (not always the same party) even though that party may have fewer than 40% of the votes cast. Thus, the majority of UK citizens are used to a situation in which their needs are ignored in favour of those of a minority.

The 2016 referendum provided a rare opportunity in which they were assured, albeit dishonestly, that the wishes of the majority would be respected. It was presented as a simple choice between leaving or remaining, with the question of what kind of relationship, if any, the UK might seek to establish with the EU after it left, buried under a fog of speculation. In or out of the Customs Union? The Single Market? A relationship like the one Norway has? Or Switzerland?

The Irish Problem

This is something that was barely touched upon during the 2016 campaign but has proved to be an impenetrable stumbling block ever since. To understand why, it is necessary to review, however briefly, 850 years of British and Irish history and religion.

Around 100 years after the Norman conquest of England two childhood friends became respectively King of England and Archbishop of Canterbury. They disagreed about the extent to which the King should interfere in the affairs of the Church. At some point the king is supposed to have said something along the lines of “Will someone rid me of this troublesome priest.”

Like most such remarks uttered in moments of frustration it was not meant to be taken literally. But a few knights who wanted to curry favour with the king did. They murdered the Archbishop in his cathedral.

It so happened that the Pope was exercised about the fact that the Church authorities in Ireland were backsliding so, when an Irish provincial king was deposed, he used that fact to persuade the English (Norman) king to come to his aid. The king, needing to appease the Pope, agreed.

As a direct result, Ireland became subject to the English Crown, its land parcelled out to assorted knights and barons who had assisted with the invasion.

Move forward 4 centuries to the reformation and the long period of conflict in the British Isles between protestantism and Roman Catholicism. The Irish refused to be reformed, despite Cromwell’s massacre of tens of thousands and the confiscation of land from Catholic owners, giving it to protestants. These religious wars were effectively brought to an end when a Dutch Prince defeated a largely Catholic army on Irish soil and was crowned King. Troublesome tenants were removed from Scottish land to be replaced by sheep. They were granted large parts of Ulster in a further attempt to dilute Catholic influence on the island.

At the beginning of the 19th century Ireland, which had hitherto had a degree of autonomy but with its own Parliament still subject to the Crown, became a part of the United Kingdom. Throughout the next century the Irish campaigned for independence until, just under a hundred years ago, it was granted. But throughout the campaign the Ulster Protestants objected, so the treaty that granted independence drew an arbitrary border around 6 of Ulster’s 9 counties.

They would remain in the UK whilst the other 26 counties of Ireland became an independent republic. That division remained controversial, and a civil rights campaign in the 6 counties at the end of the 1960s escalated into widespread acts of terrorism on the island and within England.

This ultimately led to the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty, underwritten by the EU and the USA, which, among other things, enshrined the idea that citizens of the 6 counties have dual citizenship, able to choose to hold UK or Irish passports, and total freedom of movement of goods and people between the two parts of the island.

That is, of course, perfectly practical so long as both the UK and Ireland remain members of the EU. It is incompatible with the UK’s desire to leave the EU in order “to control our borders”.

There is a lot of talk about technological solutions, and the arrangement agreed in principle in December of 2017 was that, until those solutions are available, the 6 counties will remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union (the “backstop”).

It is this part of the Withdrawal Agreement, reached by Prime Minister May and the EU at the end of last year, that has failed to secure the support of a majority in Parliament. Prime Minister Johnson’s attempt to time limit the arrangement by giving the Northern Ireland Assembly a vote every 4 years is not acceptable to Ireland or the EU.

To me the only solution is one which involves the whole of the UK remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union, a relationship not unlike that which Norway and Switzerland have, and which would seem to meet the Labour Party’s “tests”. Or the UK could abandon the attempt to leave and return to the status quo.

Extra Edition!

I typically only publish two posts (plus the music post) each day, but today I had to do another short one, for this one made me see red.

Lindsey-Graham-2Lindsey Graham is now asking every republican in the Senate to sign a ‘loyalty oath’ to Donald Trump, stating that they will stand behind the president in the face of the impeachment ‘threat’.  Now, the thing that is most galling about this is the fact that … every single member of Congress has already sworn an oath … to uphold the Constitution.  They have in effect sworn an oath to act in the best interests of We the People.  They do not owe loyalty to the president, but to their constituents.  For them so sign an oath of loyalty to the very person who is trampling the Constitution and who is destroying the nation, taking no interest at all in We the People, would be violating their very oath of office.

This is the text of the Oath of Office taken by every single senator:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.”

It should be noted that Article II, section 4 of the United States Constitution reads …

“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

The Impeachment Clause was included in the Constitution in order to create another check against abuses by government officials and to give Congress the ability to remove from power an unfit officer who might otherwise be doing damage to the public good.

The Founding Fathers did not specify what constitutes “other high crimes and misdemeanors”, for at the time (1787), they had little or no context and felt it better left to future generations to decide.  At any rate, it is in the Constitution, so impeachment of this president, who has arguably done more harm than good in the nearly three years he’s been in office, cannot be called ‘unconstitutional’.

Lindsey Graham is wrong in calling for an “oath of loyalty” to this president or any other.  Members of Congress are intended to provide oversight to the president, not to swear fealty!!!  Lindsey and all his republican buddies would do well to remember by whose good graces they serve, and who can remove them in their next election!  If the senators sign such an oath, it is my opinion that they will be violating their oath of office by failing to uphold the Constitution.

The Latest In Snarky Snippets

It took no time at all for Turkish President Erdoğan to begin implementation of his plan to attack the Kurdish troops in Syria.  Two days, I believe.  Today, Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria.  This, Donald Trump, is what you have done …turkey_syriaturkey-syria-2Already, two civilians have been killed and others wounded.  There will be many more innocent people who will die or be injured, and the blood of those people is on the hands of Donald Trump.  These were people who were going about their lives, minding their own business, hurting nobody.  They were our allies, until Monday when Trump betrayed them.

It is a complex situation that Trump does not comprehend, that even those who are scholars in Middle-Eastern affairs often find confusing.  But, Trump sold out for some favour from Erdoğan and now the U.S. has sent a clear warning to all of our allies that we are not to be trusted, that we may turn on them any day, with no notice.


I really didn’t want to talk about or even mention the impeachment issue today, but to ignore it would be to ignore the elephant in the room, for it looms larger than life.  Yesterday, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi and the chairmen of the various committees conducting the investigations in the House of Representatives. An eight-page letter, as it were.  I have muddled through about half of it so far, and a more pompous letter I have never read.  What he had to say could have been said in a single paragraph.

In a nutshell, Cipollone, acting as Trump’s mouthpiece, says that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and that nobody in the Trump administration will cooperate in any way, shape, or form.  Duh … leave it to a lawyer to take up 8 pages to say that.  But, most of it was hateful, arrogant verbiage attempting to defend the indefensible and criticize all those who would wish to hold Trump accountable for his actions.

But wait … it gets even better.

Since there is precedent for impeaching a corrupt, lying, cheating president, the Department of Justice is now claiming that Nixon’s impeachment was unconstitutional and that the courts in 1974 were wrong to approve the release of Watergate documents to Congress during the impeachment inquiry.  This came when Beryl Howell, chief judge for the U.S. District Court, indicated that she may rule in favour of giving the House Democrats access to certain of the redacted parts of the Mueller report.  The judge asked the Justice Department to explain its “extraordinary position” of trying to block lawmakers from seeing the special counsel’s grand jury materials, which include testimony and evidence that has been kept private since the Mueller probe ended in March.

Elizabeth Shapiro, a deputy director in the DOJ civil division, argued that if the same Watergate road map arose today, there’d be a “different result” because the law has changed since 1974. She said the judge wouldn’t be able to do the same thing absent changes to the grand jury rules and statutes.  The judge was stunned, saying only “Wow. Okay.”  Hopefully she will find her voice soon.

Let’s put this in context here.  President Bill Clinton was impeached because he lied to Congress about a consensual affair with a staffer.  Period.  Nothing more.  But Donald Trump has twice … not once, but at least twice that we are aware of … sought favours from foreign governments to unfairly influence our elections.  And, whereas Clinton lied to Congress, Trump has done something much, much worse:  he has lied to We the People … all 330 million of us.


And, on that note I find that I really don’t feel like writing any more, and so I will leave you with Stephen Colbert’s latest take on it all.

♫ I Second That Emotion ♫

Just one more Motown and then I’ll switch to something else, I promise!  This one was sort of a request after I played My Girl on Saturday night, and since after hearing it mentioned it has been bouncing about in my head, I figured I needed to exorcise it from my mind, and at the same time, give our friend David something to tap his toes to!

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Motown producer Al Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

As Robinson recalls in his 1989 autobiography, he and Cleveland went to a Detroit department store called Hudson’s to do Christmas shopping in December 1967. Smokey’s wife, Claudette, had recently given birth to twins that didn’t survive the premature birth, and he was looking to get her a gift.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including Special Occasion (#26 US, 1968), Yester Love (#31 US, 1968), and Baby, Baby Don’t Cry (#8 US, 1969).

I Second That Emotion
The Miracles

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.

So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.
In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Songwriters: Alfred Cleveland / William Robinson Jr.
I Second That Emotion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC