Brexit post-mortem two weeks after the vote

The decision of a generation has been made, what happens next for expats is up for conjecture, but doesn’t look great. Rob Horgan sorts through the wreckage as the dust settles on Brexit

LAST UPDATED: 6 Jul, 2016 @ 13:34

brexit-sandcastle-2THE sun rose at 7.03 on Friday June 24 but there were few rays of optimism on one of Europe’s darkest days. Ever.

Nobody saw it coming. And nobody was ready for it.

Political armageddon ensued. The Prime Minister jumped ship – with a speech containing as many nautical references as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – and markets nose-dived along with the pound.

The world – and our place in it – came to an abrupt and horribly eerie end… and it didn’t take long for expats to work out that our livelihoods are at risk.

We are now living on the front line!

While Gibraltar looked at links to Scotland and Spain eyed up the Rock, Europe licked its wounds and told the UK to simply get a move on and invoke that, now apocalyptic, ‘Article 50’.

Despite the British ambassador for Spain calling for ‘calm’ expats are understandably nervous about what is in store.

Some are already planning to depart, or postponing key decisions.

One of those is Yorkshireman Jonathan Smith, who is having to reassess ‘everything’ after recently opening a cycling and yoga retreat in Cordoba.

“The impact will be huge,” he tells the Olive Press. “Brexit could end up wrecking my whole business plan.

“If I lose the right to operate in Spain as a bike guide – or lose the EU’s protection against Spanish bureaucracy – then my cycling business is finished before it’s even started.

“I can see a situation where I need half a dozen different permits, which will take an eternity to sort out, and likely cost a fortune.”

Peter Whaley
Peter Whaley

Equally worried is leading Costa de la Luz hotelier Peter Whaley, who is urging expats to consider ‘becoming Spanish’.

“Britain has voted for disunity and instability which will no doubt go on for years,” he says.

“Yes Europe needs reforming, but not from the sidelines, from within.

“I’ve been running businesses here for over 30 years and I understand the failings of Spain and Europe but this however will only make it worse.”

The owner of Tarifa’s emblematic Hurricane Hotel, which opened in 1984, added: “We are not little Englanders here – we are open and worldly and I would urge all British expats in Spain to consider taking Spanish nationality in protest.” (See Fed up of the Uk? below)

But before the situation is made clearer for expats, the political and social turmoil in the UK must be sorted. And fast.

As the Tory party wages internal war over the search for a new leader, Labour boss Jeremy Corbyn has faced a backlash from his own shadow cabinet, with 63 Labour staff including more than 40 MPs hanging up their expenses books. Despite an overwhelming vote of no confidence in him, the surly leader looks set to battle on.

In reality, Britain is in political limbo, with Leave supporter Boris Johnson shockingly backing out of his bid to become party leader, having led the country towards Brexit before fleeing the scene with his tail between his legs. Now Farage has also gone.

As prophesied by a Guardian commenter, David Cameron checkmated the Leave campaign
with his resignation; the truth being that no politician has the guts to trigger Article 50 and walk the UK out of the EU for good.

In the city, major companies including budget airline easyJet, telecoms giant Vodafone and technology firm Siemens are all threatening to leave the UK; putting hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of hard-working British people’s jobs at risk.

Almost all major banks are weighing up their options, with many waiting to see if the UK can remain in the single market before committing.

And things are looking just as bleak on Britain’s streets. A sickening 500% increase in race-hate crimes since the referendum has uncovered the ugly side of vote Leave.

Letters telling Polish residents to go home have been put through letter boxes in Hammersmith, videos of Muslims being shouted at in Birmingham have done the rounds and migrants (of all nationalities) have been made to feel unwelcome.

The Spanish Institute on Portobello Road has been vandalised with the phrase ‘Foreigners go back’.
And while the UK goes to pieces, Europe wants things sorted sharpish. And understandably so.

Acting Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists he wants negotiations to begin with the UK immediately but he is opposed to the idea of a breakaway state which cuts off England and Wales from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

“Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom,” said Rajoy.

“I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it.”

It presumably has nothing to do with the fact Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Margallo is pushing for joint-sovereignty of Gibraltar following Brexit.

However, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is sticking to his bold vision to keep Gibraltar in the EU by chumming up with Scotland.

In an astonishing development, the Rock’s leader revealed he was in talks with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (pictured left) to stay with Scotland in the world’s largest trading bloc.

What happens from here remains to be seen.

Thanks to Nigel Farage June 24 will forever be remembered as the UK’s Independence Day.

But sadly, there are now millions of Leave voters who wish they could retract their vote like Farage retracted his promise to switch £350 million in EU payments to the NHS each week.

The truth is that many were conned, but now we will tragically just have to get on with it.

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  1. HMS United KIngdom is heading full steam towards the rocks of Brexit, the three (Johnson,Gove and Farage) stoking the boilers of this potential disaster have jumped ship, the captain has taken to the lifeboats, the helmsman is lying drunk in the corner of the bridge. Two super heroes are on Tracey island ready to come to it’s rescue but the 150000 residents of Tracey island otherwise known as the grass roots conservative party say they will have to wait till the second week of September before they can jump into Cock Up one and take some action. If you were writing a book on how not to manage a crisis it would have to look something like this. Normally the opposition would be pressing whats left of the government to take some action make a plan, but no they decide that if the Tories are going to tear themselves apart they want in on it too but big style.

  2. ‘It presumably has nothing to do with the fact Spain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Margallo is pushing for joint-sovereignty of Gibraltar following Brexit.’??
    Sure, it has! If the UK accepts the Spanish offer for joint administration for Gibraltar, then Great Britain may get both: Leaving the EU by a Brexit contract and staying in the EU market place via Gibraltar. Free movement of EU citizens may be reduced to Gibraltar by keeping flights between Gibraltar and the UK at a minimum.

  3. All the negative comments about Brexit . GET OVER IT , 17 million voted for it all you loony lefties and get a life and support democracy

    • Democracy is enforced when parliament votes to invoke article 50. The referendum is not a legal act by itself. Regarding getting a life. People made a life in Europe, Howard. They moved, purchased a house, worked and set up businesses, raised children, and had the right to do so. To then have that right removed against your will decades later is undemocratic in itself, and is almost certainly a breach of human rights too.

    • Howard, it can’t be all that bad or Barroso would not have accepted the position as an adviser for Goldman Sach’s being based in London. Perhap he may learn a thing or two about what being British means and the power of democracy. Wonder what job awaits Cameron.

  4. I think that pretty much sums it up. Even at this early stage it does not bode well, the Brexit outcome has not lived up to expectations, the main Leave campaigners have done a bunk and nobody is happy.

    The UK economy has gone from being the best performing economy in the EU to a complete basket case, there are going to be major job losses, a recession is on the horizon, there is no exit plan and we are left with an utter mess that nobody is capable of tackling. To top it all, we are now told that Wales would now vote to remain and many of the Leave voters feel they were lied to and misled and would vote to remain if they had their time again and yet we are still being denied a second referendum.

    Who is going to have the guts to trigger Article 50? I hope it is not going to be Leadsom, I doubt she could negotiate her way out of a paper bag.

  5. How you can publish an article on the 9th July, and not be aware that in fact, there are major nations, such as; USA, Autralia, New Zealand, China, India, Canada and four Scandinavian states all trying and willing and eager to agree trade links with the UK, is beyond me?

    Then we have the Swiss bankers suggesting a new confederation of the UK, Switzerland, HK and Singapore to manage worldwide financial markets and their dealings with the EU

    Nothing is going to change for us in Spain for at least two years, because it will take that long to extricate the UK from the EU mess, which by the way, may be imploding even before that date.

    Spain entered the EU in 1992, I have lived here since 1985, gained residency in 1988, when I opened a business, yes there was a long winded process to get residencia, but at that time MOST of the bureaucrats were still left overs from the Franco era, on civil service indefintivo contracts that no government would end, however time and mortality have replaced those people with younger minds, albeit mainly socialist minds, but more open to foreigners.

    Spain will NOT wish to lose existing (legal) residents, who contribute substantially to local and national economics, any more than the UK will start deporting all the worthy and industrious existing EU members, and in fact all Brexit means for the UK is the right to draw labour from a much larger immigrant pool (USA, Autralia, New Zealand, China, India, Canada and Africa) previously denied them.

    It could be harder for new immigrant Brits to gain residencia, but only if they cannot prove substance and have nothing to offer, but those rules apply currently anyway to new entrants.

    Spain is also entering a period when the people no longer always follow party political divides and allegiances, our younger generation have already made majority rule hard to achieve, aided by many older voters who are sick of left/right politics… given a free vote referendum, I wonder how many Spanish voters would choose to stay in the EU with austerity, high youth unemployment and draconian fines for NOT meeting targets set in Brussels, or choose to also exit the EU and return to prior times when we managed quite well without extranjeros telling the Spanish government what to do?

    Sorry, your article is biased and fear making, when anyone who examines the mounting daily evidence can see that Britain will soon start seeing wider horizons beckoning her.

    The EU represents 17% of world trade, the UK now has access to the other 83%, and I doubt very much that the EU can afford to stop our EU trading rights, on the UK’s terms, because they will lose 100,000’s of jobs, as there is a huge trade imbalance between the UK and the EU, so our access to world trade will be 100%, not 17%.

    I fully understand those who fear that Brexit may affect them personally, it’s a selfish position, but I can see it, because it will probably cause me some problems as well, when we progress along the way out, but even after living in Spain for over 30 years, I still believe that Brexit was the best choice for the UK.

    It’s probably the death knell for the EU, because more members will now start thinking of exiting, and it is hopefully the end of any more covert plans for a Federal Europe, a superstate in it’s own right like the USA, controlling 500 million ‘citizens’.

    Europe is not the USA, we are all independent states with wonderfully diverse cultures and lifestyles, we deserve to remain sovereign states, but hopefully Brexit will signify the reformation of the EU into what it started as, a free trade association inspiring easy access and mutual security from a loose association of sovereign states.

    If you want a more balanced article, I would gladly write it for you.

    • Very good post John.

      Whether Remain or Leave most people would have voted as to how they might be affected, Leave won against the odds it seems which pleased us although we were in the U.S. and partied that night of the 23rd with loads of Brits & Yanks! Our stocks went down at 1st we were prepared for some mayhem and oddities, but they’re higher now than before the vote.

      Who knows for sure what will happen, I read today that other Countries not in the EU want to trade with us, can’t help noticing how many German car dealerships are in the UK, they won’t want to lose that trade, neither will the French with Champagne, cars, cheese wine etc.

      Personally I find it nervy but exciting times, I can’t see much change for a couple of years yet, and look forward to your article lol

  6. John is the only person speaking sense, it’s happened, stop being negative and move on. Does this newspaper ever print anything posative, the press need to be stronger stop spreading negativity and encourage people to be posative

    • It depends WHAT they read. There is no doubt that the electorate was misled on both sides of the campaign and the whole thing needs to be looked at again in detail.

      At no point was it made clear that EU exit negotiations can only commence once Article 50 has been triggered and we are committed to Brexit by which time, it is too late to back out and you are effectively working blind. OK, some people might have known this but it should have been made crystal clear in the major debates and it was not.

      No margin was set out before the referendum i.e. did it have to be a 60/40 Remain/Leave split and what threshold was going to be set. What would have happened if there had been a margin of just 1,000 votes either way? I questioned this plenty of times but nobody knew the answer because there was no legislation in place.

      The main Leave campaigners have now done a bunk and left the Remainers to do their dirty work – they didn’t have a exit plan or the courage of their own convictions.

      So now, even though we know that the campaign was fatally flawed, we didn’t have the right legislation in place for referenda, people are coming forward and saying they didn’t realise the implications of the Leave vote (some openly admit they didn’t even understand it and really should have done the decent thing and abstained from voting) and some have completely changed their minds, we are still ploughing on with Brexit like a slow motion car crash.

      There is nothing democratic about misleading people. It’s a real mess and makes us look very foolish as a nation.

      • My comments are from a person in the UK, maybe we were better informed than the Expats of the UK. We knew about Article 50 and how it worked and as for all the other exaggerations that both the Leave and Remain campaigns made they were taken with a pinch of salt.
        All the people I know that voted voted for their own reasons and perceptions of how the EU affects them whether in a good or a bad way, do not believe all the press that there are a lot of people who did not understand what was going on if people have changed their minds you would probably find an equal amount on both sides.
        The referendum was not hard to understand, only 2 options and the one with the most votes would win a bit like a 2 horse horse race, only one winner and one second place.
        The biggest problem I think has been with Cameron from the beginning. He should never have been campaigning for one side or another as leader of the country it should have been his job to make sure both sides showed the facts as clearly as possible.
        Also the population have known this referendum has been coming for several years but the people in charge did not plan what to do if the vote went for exit, that is down to Cameron again to have a fully planned exit strategy ready which would have made him look a lot more credible.
        The voting is now over and which ever way you voted everyone has to pull together and make it work, life will go on and we will get nowhere wishing that the result had been different.

        • JL, I sincerely hope you are right and that it was an informed decision for most people. Rather worrying is the fact that the majority of younger people wanted to remain in the UK and I fear their opportunities may be curtailed in the future – I voted Remain, my parents both voted Leave which is quite typical thoughout the country. How about future generations who wish to work/retire to Spain? They are unlikely to get such a good deal or be able to move so freely.

          It is very difficult to move on at this stage because we are working completely blind and don’t know what kind of deal we are going to get. The decision to Leave has created a lot of uncertainty for everybody everywhere and I somehow doubt that the Brexiteers will ever get the UK they are hoping for. It’s what you might call a hollow victory.

  7. I agree, the vote has happened, Cameron rather stupidly called for one and it has back-fired on him, ironic that he was talking about how strong he’s made the UK, deficit reductions etc in fact many positives, yet before the vote it was all negatives for leaving. 8 days or so before the vote he said the ‘British are not quitters’ and then promptly ‘Quit’. Interesting to see that both he and his doom monger mate Osborne have now both gone! Good!

    There will be attempts for a 2nd ref, foul play calls, but I’d be surprised if this is overturned. What I think is more likely will be other EU countries wanting their own referendums and others may leave too, there’s already talk of this.

    I feel confident that this will be good for the UK in time, and for other countries, lots to sort out though.

    IMO I don’t think Brits in Spain or the EU should worry unnecessarily about status, nor those EU nationals living in the UK. There will be sterling concerns for a while but pretty confident it will bounce back.