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!