Wednesday 28 November 2018

Brexit: If the UK now remains in the EU how will it compensate EU citizens for their losses ?

EU27 leaders endorsing the Brexit withdrawal agreement
Last Sunday the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement was signed by both the UK and the EU27 states. It has been made clear by many EU leaders that there is precisely one withdrawal agreement and they have no intention of negotiating another in the four months left until the UK leaves the EU. That's it. There will be no more negotiation. This has been made clear.

The choice that the UK now faces is between the deal which Theresa May has already signed or no deal at all. The first of those will damage the British economy and to a lesser extent also EU economies, but it will go some way to protect the rights of British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK. "No deal" will be catastrophic.

The EU has offered a remarkably generous withdrawal agreement. which was signed by the Prime Minister only to result in other British politicians and some elements of the press discussing it if they've been blackmailed. Whatever happened to the concept of diplomacy ? How do you intend to remain friends with the other EU nations and their citizens ?

In the few days since that time, the response from British people seems to have been that they will consider almost any other option other than the two choices which are now on the table. There are groups of people who want each of these options:
  • Re-open negotiations to get some other agreement from the EU though it's been made very clear that this will not happen.
  • Another referendum (a "people's vote"), which of course the British can do if they want but they should not expect that an internal vote will have influence outside their country.
  • A general election to try to bring in Jeremy Corbyn as a Labour Prime Minister, even though he has absolutely failed to oppose the government during his time as leader of the opposition.
  • Unilaterally reverse brexit and remain in the EU with the existing preferential terms of membership.
  • An arrangement similar to that which Norway has now.
  • No deal as deliberate policy while continuing to lie about the likely negative consequences for the country.
A few days later, at the Spectator awards. David Davis and Dominic Raab,
two brexit secretaries who quit without finishing the job, accept a joint
"Cabinet Resignation Of The Year" prize. They were fundamental in
causing chaos and they're smiling about it. No reflection here of the
damage they caused to other nations or even to their own.
What all of these options have in common is that the other 27 nations who are remaining in the EU are apparently supposed to blindly accept whatever it is that the British people decide to choose for themselves, whenever they choose it for themselves.

There's even a court case going on at the moment to decide whether or not the the UK can unilaterally reverse brexit and force that reversal on all the other member states. This is of course very unlikely to be allowed because it would open the EU to a type of extortion by member states.

At this point many British people, even many of those who see themselves as pro-EU "remainers" are still talking as if the UK is exceptional, can decide on any path for itself without considering the other nations, and can control the entire bloc even at a point in time where it's on the edge of leaving that bloc (or maybe they think they're not leaving as they haven't bothered to make up their minds as yet).

Brexit is not just about the UK
Quite apart from the absurdity of the idea that one nation which is leaving a bloc should expect to be able to change things for the 27 who are remaining, it seems to me that we have gone rather a long way past the time when British people ought to have worked out that the UK does not exist in a vacuum and that brexit has not happened in a vacuum either.

The effects of the brexit vote have not been limited to Britain or to British citizens. Much damage has been caused over the last two and a half years to citizens of the other 27 nations. The chaos from the UK has affected and will further affect everyone in the EU. Millions of people have lost billions of euros as a result of the UK's brexit vote and the subsequent uncertainty and chaos. Some people have lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, a few even their lives, and very many people who never had a choice in this at all have lived with a considerable amount of stress for the last two and a half years.

Speaking for ourselves, our family was affected in a major way. We quickly realised that the only way we could ensure that we could remain living in our own homes, whatever the final outcome, would be by changing our nationality from British to Dutch. Not to have done this put us in harm's way if a brexit outcome which didn't protect our rights was the result. It was a difficult decision to make: Dual citizenship was not possible in our case so the votes of other British people resulted in us losing our right to live in our country of birth. The process of changing citizenship cost us several thousand euros and, in addition, a brexit related decline in our largely UK facing business (only UK sales dropped, not those to other markets) cost us tens of thousands of euros in lost sales. In addition we have experienced monumental stress due to having to take exams, provide evidence of citizenship (or lack of it), send important, expensive and sometimes irreplaceable documents through the post to provide evidence in the UK and the Netherlands. This stress lasted a long time: We started this process in June 2016 immediately after the referendum result but it took until just two weeks ago before we received our final letters from the Dutch government to say that our case was closed, we could definitely remain Dutch, and that we were therefore safe. But this has not been an easy time for our family. We, like millions of others, have been damaged by brexit.

A question for the remainers
I can't see how you can expect to turn back the clock without there being any negative effect. The UK has benefited enormously from the EU, it has benefited at the expense of other nations due to having been allowed special conditions which other nations did not benefit from. You have now caused great problems for the other nations and it's time for a bit of reflection and humility.

This leaves me with a question for those British people who now still think they can reverse article 50 and remain in the EU:

What plan does the UK have to reimburse for the losses that your country's actions have caused for EU27 citizens ?

Update 10 December 2018
The ECJ has ruled that the UK can unilaterally revoke article 50 and retain all the existing terms of membership "following a democratic process" which demonstrates that this is what the people want. We will now watch and see whether the UK takes advantage of this remarkably generous offer.

Note that it does not resolve anything for the millions of people who are still billions of euros down due to the brexit vote. It does not resolve anything for those who have lost homes, jobs or their nationality due to brexit.

Brexit was never an issue which only affected the UK and UK citizens. When will the UK offer compensation for the damage which the country has done to nationals of other countries ?

There's also the question of where this leaves the UK. If the UK withdraws the article 50 notice before it has taken on the reasons why British people voted to leave in the 2016 referendum then there is every chance that a Farage2 and a UKIP2 will continue to cause chaos and that there will continue to be people who cause chaos and who push for a brexit. If the issues are not resolved in the UK and the UK remains in the EU then that is bad news for every EU nation.

Update February 2019
The logo of an absolutely idiotic campaign
Just 50 days are left before the UK leave the EU on Brexit day, March 29th.

The British government still has not decided what it actually wants. It has proven to be incapable even of governing itself.

Against this background a new campaign has sprung up in the UK with the name "Lead not Leave". This campaign is led by Gina Miller, Lord Maurice Saatchi and Helena Kennedy QC and it was kicked off by Saatchi making a remarkably jingoistic speech in the British parliament, in which he harped back to the second world war, called for the vote of British people to be given more weight than the vote of other nations, and said:
We don't to be bossed around, particularly by the Germans - Lord Saatchi before launching Lead not Leave
I can assure the people behind "Lead not Leave" that that there is absolutely no yearning at all amongst the people of the other 27 nations of the EU for Britain to come along and "lead" them. The rest of the EU knows that it would not benefit from a country which is currently demonstrating an inability to tie its own shoelaces taking a leadership role. This, unfortunately, is the closest thing to an opposition to brexit that the UK has yet managed to organise, and it's not only far too late but also absolutely useless. Remain unicorns are not better than leave unicorns...

Anyway, I'm not linking to them. The last thing that either the EU or the UK need is for this group of nitwits to get more attention than they already have.

This is the last so far of a series of six blog posts about brexit:
Brexit: My country was taken from me (June 2016 + many later updates)
Brexit: There was plenty of information about what the EU did for UK  for those who sought it (October 2017)
Brexit: A long journey through uncertainty (October 2017)
Brexit: Where two years of brexit chaos have left us (February 2018)
Brexit: One year left for the UK to leave the EU and we're very nearly Dutch (March 2018)

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