Perfidious Albion II

Was a little rushed this morning, and skipped over a few things.

The direction of travel suggests to me that the question of triggering Article 50 is going to be the major issue of the 2020 election.

There is a little more to this statement than the perpetually pushed back triggering of Article 50. The largest of which is the future of the currently dysfunctional United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

One of Mrs. May’s first official visits was to Holyrood Palace for an audience with the Queen of the North, the Great Nicola of Dreghorn. The reported content of their conversation was that there would be no invocation of Article 50 until there was agreement on a negotiating position within the Union.

Right. That’s going to happen in short order. Or, more likely, never.

It’s another one of those “evil genius, purely evil, or extremely shrewd” moments for the press to consider. Is the Queen of the North now on the hook to absorb the heaped opprobrium of little england as she valiantly saves them from their idiotic impulses?

Is it an excuse to moan, “If it wasn’t for that stubborn Scot we’d have taken back our country by now!” Or, more of a “Oh please Brer Fox, whatever you do, please don’t throw me into the briar patch”?

It’s pretty obvious that it puts another checkpoint in front of any call from the swivel eyed brigade – “we must respect the view of our partners in the Union… or are you prepared to be responsible for it’s destruction?!”

We may never know for sure one way or the other, but it’s very hard to see it as anything other than a delaying tactic.

Following on from Scotland is a report today that:

there will be no return to border checks for people entering the UK from the Republic of Ireland despite Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

That’s generations worth of clusterfuckery to be resolved! It’s not clear to me how it’s possible to have an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland when one is part of the EU, with freedom of movement, and the other is fortress england. The obvious solution would be to introduce a hard border between Northern Ireland and little england… you can imagine how well that would be received in the Union.

In a lot of ways the unknown fate of Northern Ireland is one of the hardest parts of the referendum result to accept. It seems impossible to me that Cameron could ever gambled with the fragile peace in that region. The Good Friday agreement relies on Ireland and the UK being members of the EU to facilitate freedom of movement over the border. Is the potential resumption of The Troubles a reasonable outcome of internal Tory party spats really a price worth paying? Earlier when i referred to Cameron as “a political midget” i meant no offence to midgets…

And Wales? Well, Wales is fucked. As the song goes, “if you go to bed with the pigs, you wake up with the pigs”.

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Perfidious Albion

A few people have asked how the recent “brexit” (oh, how i’ve come to loathe that portmanteau…) will effect me here in Europe. Now that a little time has passed, and given my generally inability to organise my thoughts verbally, it seems reasonable to attempt to put a few things down.

Things that we know:

  • the uk as a whole voted to leave the EU by a majority of 52%
  • Scotland and Northern voted not to leave, England <spit> and Wales … yes, well.
  • the referendum is non-binding – that is to say, there is no constitutional requirement for the government of the day to act, and obviously the actions of any future government are not restricted
  • until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered the UK is still part of the EU, and must act within that legal framework
  • David Cameron is an idiot, a political midget

Everything that we thought we knew about the Tories under Cameron is now up for re-assessment. While there is no doubt that they will continue to pander to their constituents, and sell the general population down the river at the earliest opportunity, the means by which this will be accomplished will be different. That is to say, the formula for the sugar-coating on the bitter pill of english public life is being revised.

We don’t know much about Mrs. May. Her cabinet appointments are played up in the press as being of create significance. They are either the work of an evil genius, purely evil, or extremely shrewd. The only conclusion i’d draw is that they are more relevant to the Tory Party than the general public.

Anyway. Here we are, a month after the vote, and nothing has changed.

Before the vote the notification required by Article 50 was to be sent immediately.

The day after the vote Article 50 was to be the responsibility of the next (un-elected) prime minister, and all bets were off until some time in September.

When May was appointed, “Brexit means Brexit” (yes, very gnomic..), Article 50 would be triggered by the end of year.

Two weeks ago, when legal challenges made it to the courts, the government announced it had no intention to trigger Article 50 before the end of the year.

Last week Article 50 would be triggered early in 2017.

This week the deadline seems to have stretch out to Article 50 definitely being triggered by the time of the General Election in 2020.

The direction of travel suggests to me that the question of triggering Article 50 is going to be the major issue of the 2020 election. No, that is not what anyone is currently saying, but if there was an appetite for getting this process underway i very much doubt we’d be seeing the degree of back-peddling that is obviously happening.

What does all this mean for me? Well, delay is good – the residency requirement for applying for german citizenship is 8 years. The longer the decision to put off Article 50, the easier it becomes for me to make that application. There are other requirements (such as language ability) which i’d currently fail to meet, but they are not insurmountable. If it is possible to apply for German citizenship, and not have to give up my UK passport, that would be nice… but at this point i’m hardly tied to anything english.

In the worse case, where the UK turns around and triggers Article 50, without parliamentary approval, without waiting for the process in the courts to play out, etc. the two year negotiating period gets me close enough that it probably wouldn’t matter. Honestly, it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where the EU, let alone Germany, implements forced repatriation – even if the UK acts irresponsibly and denies residency rights to existing EU citizens.

As John Lanchester’s brilliant London Review of Books essay ‘Brexit Blues‘ makes clear, the most likely outcome is an arrangement that maintains access to the EU markets, especially ‘passporting’ for the banks, and compromises on the demands to end free movement of people. This is “obvious” as the white working class voter is the constituency of least concern to the Tories:

So the likeliest outcome, I’d have thought, is a betrayal of the white working class. They should be used to it by now.

Yes, indeed they should.

In summary: Tory party politics spills over into reality, causing much chaos, confusion, and distress, but ultimately not changing very much. In many ways a fitting metaphor for england’s inability to comprehend it’s diminished role in the world. Post imperial decline’s a bitch!