The recent Brexit vote in the UK could safely be described as one of the most polarising political results in history.
With a less than enormous margin, the ‘Exiters’ have managed to genuinely shock the usually benignly passive Brits.
‘Keep Calm’ memes now include the words ‘panic’ and ‘burn the house down’. They also include the words ‘told you so’ and ‘suck it up’.
Not very stiff upper lip in either camp.
And unlike otherwise localised political events, ever since the vote was taken, everyone, literally EVERYONE in the World, has an opinion.
From American late night talk show hosts, to Australian talk back radio mouth pieces, from journalists and Generals in Asia, to South African super models and actors in every continent, the noise has been astounding.
Not only that, every person who has ever entered the world of public service anywhere on the planet has had something to say.
The truth is, they had much less to say when they thought the vote would come back as ‘stay’.
Perhaps it is the fear of perceived sudden unpredictability that shocked them.
Perhaps they fear it means more change for them where they live.
After all, are we not both comforted and revolted by the status quo.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same” we say.
Except for when things REALLY change, and then we freak out.
Whether you are an ‘inie’ or an ‘outie’ in your heart, what is done is done.
It may take a long time, it may happen quickly. It may never happen and that would be an interesting trick.
Regardless, the shake up itself is enough to wake up the generally disinterested populous.
But how will it affect people in reality?
What changes will touch your household?
According to figures released in 2015 from the UN, around 1.2 million British-born people live in another EU country.
Around 800,000 are workers and their dependents. The rest include the retirees who pack the Costa del Sol – Spain has the biggest British expat community on the continent. According to the Department for Communities and Local Government, English people alone own 576,000 second homes in another European country.
A summary of a paper from the European Council on Foreign Relations titled “BRITS ABROAD: HOW BREXIT COULD HURT EXPATS states the following.
Britons could lose their right to work in Europe without a visa, falling foul of rules in 15 member states that employers must first prove that there are no suitable candidates in the EU/EEA in order to hire someone from outside.
EU membership allows British expats to dodge red tape on property in 15 member states. Countries such as Austria, Croatia, Denmark, and Bulgaria demand that non-EU/EEA citizens have a residence permit, business registration, or permission from the government to buy there.
Over 11,000 British students now study abroad in Europe each year. As EU citizens they pay the same low fees as locals – or even study for free. Rates are far higher for non-EU/EEA citizens.
British citizens would lose the right to the European Health Insurance card, which gives them immediate access to essential healthcare across the EU – for free in some countries, and for a reduced price in others.
And finally, regarding Pensions:
In the EU pensioners can use the years they have worked in one member state to qualify for pensions in another. This may not be the case for those outside the EU.
To read this report in full head to www.ecfr.eu/page/-/ECFR_176_-_HOW_BREXIT_COULD_HURT_EXPATS.pdf
It is important to pay attention to the use of words chosen in this document.
Note ‘might’ and ‘could’, ‘may’ and ‘might not’.
This is the language of uncertainty. At the moment, the rapidity of movement of political figures alone means that absolutely nothing is fixed. All is in flux.
It reminds me of other times of uncertainty, such as when Y2K was going to eat our young and send us back to the dark ages.
It harks back to 9/11, when every plane was capable of flying into landmarks the World over and was potentially about to.
Brexit may have been a vividly stupid decision, or it may have been a genius move. Until the dust truly settles, we will never know, and even then, settled dust often obscures our view of what is truly there.
Dust is funny that way.
The important thing is to stay informed, stay awake- now that you ARE awake- and to keep calm……and carry on.
This isn’t the first surprising event in history (just ask the dinosaurs) and it won’t be the last.
#BREXIT #POLITICS #VOTING