10 Jul, 2016 @ 16:05
1 min read

A bout of the Brexit blues

giles column  e


giles column (6)I WENT to bed a European. I woke up an outsider.

I will be frank from the outset. I have always considered myself European. I was in my 20s when the Berlin Wall came down and remember watching the live TV pictures open mouthed in my living room as people poured through.

Magazines such as Time and Newsweek – remember when they were the source of international news in the pre-Internet age – breathlessly reported on the collapse of communist regimes across Europe, all looking to the West for their future.

Some of my earliest assignments were to report on the preparations in Seville ahead of Expo 92, and I remember the enthusiasm of the new European nations.

I was going to be one of the New Europeans, as the adverts put it, who would be part of a bright, shining future.

Born in Britain but living in Spain, I was part of a modern, forward-thinking Europe.

But after the EU Referendum all of that has changed.

I had a series of meetings and media briefings with THE British Ambassador in the run up to the referendum and he described it as the most important decision in 150 years for the British people.

And the British people gave a two fingered salute to the Single Europe that I grew up with.

What that means for the future for British expats in Spain is still to be decided.

As to my own future as a self-employed freelance journalist and broadcaster trying to make an honest living (if ´honest living’ and ‘freelance journalist’ isn’t an oxymoron), that too could change, as I may need professional qualifications to ply my trade as a soon-to-be non-EU citizen.

Or I could change my nationality. I’ve been living in Spain long enough to apply for Spanish citizenship.

Or if things in the UK (another oxymoron) pan out the way they seem to be going, I could soon be the owner of a brand new Scottish passport!


Giles Brown

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  1. We are still European; we generally get on with our neighbours in Europe and there is no reason why we should not continue to do so.. It’s just that some of us – in the UK – do not wish to be dictated to by an unelecte, faceless beurocracy in Brussels. We feel able to shape our own destiny.

    • Colin, we were never dictated to. The UK was one of the main economic members of the EU and all decisions were debated and voted upon. The idea that the UK was somehow not involved, or not party to, decisions affecting the EU as a whole, is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the EU and one often used in anti EU smears. We were part of a union; decisions were not made unilaterally by member states.

    • Hear hear Colin, we like much of Europe but not the EU, and will still holiday in parts of Europe inc Spain where we still have a holiday home. It feels liberating to have voted for Brexit.

  2. Fred, good piece of pro-EU propaganda but does’nt tally with the facts. There is no real Union, it is a corporate club run by Germany with it’s sidekick France, desperately hanging on. The Euro was introduced for only one country’s benefit – Germany wth an % rate that benefited, at the expense of all the others, yes – Germany.

    Greece was’nt bailed out, the German and French banks were. Now we hear that the rules will be bent for Italy with it’s failed banks, to the tune of €1.2 trillion of non performing loans.

    A union is by definition something that represents all union members, not just one or two. Your using the same tactics as the stupid Remain camp – it did’nt work for them and it’s not going to work for you – try something different.

    • Stuart, it is not propaganda, but post-Brexit why should you worry anyway? As stated previously, I am pro reformed-EU. The constant arguing of semantics will not progress matters. The EU was a union for most in terms of free movement, currency and human rights – those things did represent all union members, did they not? An interesting two (or more) years ahead.

  3. I voted to REMAIN in the EU, but I can understand many of the arguments of those who voted to LEAVE. If only Jean Claude Juncker had been less sneering and more accommodating, and if Germany, under Merkel had been less inclined to dominate and dictate, the UK would never have voted to leave.
    It is a shame that the UK referendum was not delayed until late 2017. By then we may see a different EU, with Francois Hollande gone and replaced by Alain Juppe or Sarkozy, and Merkel probably replaced by a German leader who is more willing to back off and address the concerns of the more sceptical member states.
    Now Theresa May is to be the UK PM she may achieve what Cameron could not – a more acceptable relationship with the EU. It looks like Brexit really means Brexit, but who knows what may happen in the future, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the UK rejoin a reformed EU which is less hell bent on ever tighter political union.

  4. Fred,
    you hav’nt addressed any of the factual points I raised and very possibly from a self interest financial gain POV you support the ‘free movement of capital and labour’.

    This one founding tenet of the EU clearly only benefits the elite and big business at the expense of ordinary Europeans. It is pointless to deny this because it is self evident. You can pronounce all you like about pro-reform, so now you have to state precisely what you define as reforms, for whose benefit and what those actual reforms are – otherwise you simply have no rational argument. As I said your post was and is pure EU propoganda.

    • Stuart, just because you say you have the facts, does not mean they are the facts. That applies to me too of course, and indeed it’s a very difficult task to find the truth. However, it is a undeniable fact that Europe has a common currency, freedom of movement, and a European human rights law (among many other things) and so member states were benefiting from those aspects of the union – and it was a “union” in that respect. I agree with you that rules have been bent, but it’s either that or no project at all and I believe that the project, overall, has more benefits than standing alone. If the project is flawed then it will fall apart anyway, but this is no concern of yours now of course.

      I stated before what reforms I wanted. I would like freedom of movement to have conditions and I would like restructure of the organisation to make it more democratic. Cameron’s eight original reforms were a good start (“http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/the-eight-eu-reforms-david-cameron-wants-from-brussels–eyM-FMbPLl”). Of course, the UK needs reform too. Why is it so generous and open in terms of healthcare and benefits when other EU member states are not? If that issue had been resolved much earlier the referendum result may have been a lot different.

      To suggest that the UK had no input on the running of Europe is total nonsense. Just watch Professor Michael Duggan (“https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTypBKEd8Y”) who has spent decades analysing EU laws and the EUs inner-workings, and see what he says about the UKs involvement. With respect, I believe him more than I believe you on that particular issue.

      Do you really believe people had all the facts when they voted in the referendum? Of course not. The EU is far too large and complex an entity to even try to have a referendum about. People, in the end, voted on the basis of only a few things, most notably immigration and the money we send to the EU. Today we see reports of how the NHS has queue jumping patients from Africa being given priority over UK residents, and again, it’s nothing to do with the EU. The £350m per week for the NHS was a total lie, and so was much of the immigrant nonsense that attributed many stories to EU immigrants when in fact they came from Afghanistan and Syria. The referendum decision is diminished massively if the facts are impossible to gather and the media are so biased (both ways, of course).

      Btw, ironic that your homeland of Scotland may end up remaining in the EU.

    • Stuart,
      ask German pensioners what they think about zero interest rates for their life insurances.
      Due to its geographic position in Central Europe Germany has no chance to avoid some kind of leadership in the EU. That Germany cannot ‘dictate’ anything was demonstrated with the immigrant crisis where no country except Sweden and (in the beginning) Austria was willing to take a fair share of the refugees (but the refugee crisis in the Mediterranian Sea still continues). As for Greece: If the German tax-payer did not grant for the Greek debt, then nobody in Greece would get any loan or pension from the banking teller stations. The same may happen now with Italy soon.
      Germany was not keen on changing the DM into the Euro, but was forced to do so by Margret Thatcher and Francois Mitterand in order to get their approval for German unification. UK and France were the ‘dictators’ not Germany! If Germany was able to ‘dictate’ the EU. then the UK would not have been allowed to participate in the wars in Lybia and Irak, which is the reason for the development of the Islamic State and of the chaos in Syria.
      Most people from Gibraltar, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London as well as most British expats in EU countries are keen to remain in the EU. Are they all stupid?

    • Stuart, what exactly are you angling for? You live in France, with all the benefits of free movement and reciprocal healthcare, you are a Scot that openly dislikes England and wants Scotland to become independent and yet your leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has clearly stated that if the UK leaves the EU, Scotland will have another referendum because they want to stay in the EU.

      Is this your way of getting a second Scottish independence referendum i.e. get the UK to leave the EU so you can get another shot at it?

      So where does that leave a Eurosceptic Scot like yourself who is living in France, wants an independent Scotland but also wants to leave the EU while Scotland is likely to remain in the EU in the event of independence from the rest of the UK? Have you thought this through?

      Don’t assume that the status quo will continue and that you can carry on living in the France in the same way as you are now. You can forget what happened in the past, we are now in new territory.

  5. Wolfgang, you always try to sidestep what I have presented – I said that ordinary Europeans are sidelined for corporate greed – it is’nt only Germans who are getting zero % why did’nt you include all European pensioners?

    Ordinary Germans did’nt want the Euro but German industry did, you twisted that one as well, did’nt you?
    As to Thatcher wanting the Euro, that simply is a lie and you know it. You also know that German companies were happy to supply Hussein with the means to make chemical weapons.

    You’ve also denied by omission that it was German and French banks that stupidly lent the most money to the Greeks and if the ECB had’nt bailed them out then many German banks would have gone bust. Fact – the majority of votes cast in London were for Brexit, totally outnumbering the rest you quoted – Wolfgang, Erwin Rommel you are’nt.

    Fred, it’s undeniable that the EU has a common currency – that is destroying southern Europe. Freedom of movement is driving a huge resentment among western European peoples because it only benefits big business – which is what I said. The human rights only benefits the legal parasites and stops killers, rapists being deported back to their homelands – and you call these benefits – why does’nt the OP conduct a poll to see just how many support your position.

    As to the points you raise about life in the UK – all valid and as you well know I have raised these points myself many times on this forum – people get the government they deserve. Act like frightened serfs and that is how you will be treated. I have never laid that at the door of the EU and never will.

    • Stuart, does this mean you now agree that the EU is a union? I agree that the poorer countries (PIGS) should have delayed their entry in to the EU, or should never have been allowed to enter, and have said so many times – and they can leave too if the will of their people demands it (like the UK did). Ok, so you highlight a few cases anout rapists and killers, some valid, but we never hear about the good that the legislation has done. To suggest there have been no benefits, at all, is such a sweeping statement, and is wrong. Trade, the movement of people to live and work, the ability to purchase a property with the same rights, are just a few benefits – and yourself and I are benefitting from them right now. Yes, there are serious problems with the EU, but what system of this scale doesn’t have problems?

  6. Not a good reply Fred, not good at all. The poorer countries that gained admittance will never leave as the gravy train then stops at their borders. That was a feeble intellectual answer and you know it. So precisely what is good in actual not theoretical terms – you have given not one concrete reason.

    Maybe your unstated business gains from this free movement of capital and labour but in no way does it benefit ordinary European and you know it – you are manifesting self interest, fine but state it openly.

    Property purchase has been possible by foreigners across Europe well before the EU was created, again you know this full. Work – again this is another straw man argument.

    Jane G, your comments are as a classic conservative party woman. Everything you say about me you have made up, do you like being Aunt sally it does seem so.

    I have never expressed an anti-English sentiment, the assumptions you make suggest a very flaky personality. I do not and never have supported the SNP, where on earth did you pull that one from. Assumptions and yet more assumptions – when you have no hard data about a person or a situation, simple rational logic dictates that you ask questions to establish a basis for any possible argument for or against a position that you contest – now is that clear enough. LOL.

    Wolfgang wo bist du?

    • You’re going to have to do better than that Stuart. If you don’t want to be accused of disliking England, might I suggest you stop making pointed remarks like “you English” and “English drunks”.

      You assume rather a lot yourself don’t you. You might want to try and remember some of the things you have said in the past before sounding off on here. Calling Scots “cowards” for voting to remain in the UK for example.

      You really are all over the place so I suggest give it up before you become your infamous Aunt Sally, it is all getting rather tedious.

    • Stuart, accusing me of a bad reply when you can’t even work out what a union is, is feeble in itself lol. Your inability to concede that the EU has done some good things also shows your argument to be wildly biased in the extreme. I pointed out that “ordinary” people have benefited from freedom of movement, from the single currency, from trading rights, and from human rights laws – and you choose to ignore it. You accuse others of making assumptions but you really don’t know who will leave or stay in the EU in the future. You seem obsessed with my self interest. I consider myself an ordinary European who benefits from the ability to live and work and trade in Europe. As I said elsewhere, property purchase abroad predates the EU, but there is a critical difference and that is the rights of the individual. My own family purchased property when Franco was still in power, but they had absolutely no rights whatsoever, and they suffered for it. Big difference – no straw man argument there. I will end by saying it is not for you to tell this forum how people have or have not benefited from their lives in Europe, it for individuals to say if they have, or not. I have benefited is all I can tell you.

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