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This Week in Brexit: Expat rights

by John Brian Shannon

Now that Brexit issues of substance have percolated up into the mainstream everyone has stopped talking about the Tories getting their electoral wings clipped and we can now move on to far more important matters! And just in time folks, it was getting a bit much.

The Queen looked positively radiant reading aloud the document that will change European history on both sides of the English Channel.

Some comments were made about her EU-bleu hat which had five golden embellishments reminiscent of the gold stars on the EU flag. If so, it’s the Queen’s prerogative what to wear and if she wanted to send a polite message to the European Union via her choice of attire, why not?

If you asked 20 people what that message might have been, you’d probably get 20 different answers. Note to conspiracy theorists; Knock yourselves out!

You must be dying to know what my read of the Queen’s outfit is: After all, you ARE reading this blog, aren’t you?

I think the Queen knows there are hurt feelings in Brussels and that others in the EU are sad to see Britain leave. And it could be that as she read the speech written to begin the process to take the UK out of the EU, she wanted to politely emote, ‘We are leaving your Union, but we respect you and want to keep good relations with you.’

How could it be other than that? What else would you expect from the reigning Monarch of the United Kingdom? Of course, continental Europe will still need the UK… and the United Kingdom will still need the EU.

Trade, a common European defence, social causes, families, etc. are so interlinked between Britons and the people across the Channel that good relations must be preserved, sparing no effort.

EU Membership is no guarantee of a booming economy

Over 175 nations in the world are not members of the EU, nor do they have trade agreements with the EU.

Some nations, even those in close proximity to the EU declined to join the Union. And some, like Norway, Switzerland and others simply worked out different arrangements with the EU.

Greenland applied for EU membership, then withdrew its application once Greenlanders were consulted via referendum. Yet, Norway, Switzerland and Greenland have continued along just fine without EU membership, as have other European and non-European states.

The UK will get along fine without EU membership

Yes, some things will be better for Britons. Yes, there will be a period of adjustment. And minor economic disruptions could occur here and there, at various waypoints along the Brexit timetable.

But what negotiators on both sides must remember is that, ‘What’s good for the UK, is good for the EU.’

Large EU companies like BMW and Mercedes don’t want a recession in the UK! It’s one of their best markets. Large British companies like BP (British Petroleum) want continental Europe to thrive, else how can it remain profitable?

Arguably, small business is even more dependent upon thriving economies on both sides of the English Channel.

Which is why all of this must be made to work!

If the EU ‘stabs’ the UK, it will be the EU that bleeds! The reverse is also true!

Hurt feelings aside, let’s hope that negotiators on both sides are dedicated to ensuring they aren’t the cause of their own ‘bleeding’ and that they continually work towards a better agreement — one that works for Britons and EU citizens alike.

RECIPROCITY should be the watchword every day until Brexit negotiations are concluded. And thenceforth, all relations between the two sides should be guided by that ultra-important word in perpetuity.

UK and EU -- RECIPROCITY definition by Cambridge University Press

What all this is leading up to is the present discussion surrounding expat privileges in both jurisdictions — succinctly covered by Laura Kuenssberg, Political editor at the BBC, here.

But we can’t have one ruleset for UK citizens who live, work, attend university, or are retired in EU nations… and a different ruleset for EU citizens who live, work, attend university, or are retired in the United Kingdom.

SSTWB: Simple Solutions Tend to Work Best

So with that in mind let’s declare that from January 1st 2018, any EU citizen who moves to (or already lives in) the United Kingdom for any reason (work, school, retirement, or to live as one of the idle rich) must register with the UK government and pay an annual £100 fee per each family member (in the case of EU citizens that move to the UK) and for those Britons who move to the EU for any reason (work, school, retirement, or to live as one of the idle rich) must register with the government of that jurisdiction and pay an annual €100 fee per each family member.

Once they have registered and paid, it thereby proves their status and good intentions to the jurisdiction in which they intend to live (or already live) and they should have the ability to join the NHS (in the case of EU citizens living in the UK) and pay the same NHS contributions as Britons do.

Of course, those contributions are scaled to income so EU citizens would need to provide a copy of their income tax form to the UK government when paying their annual £100 per family member expat tax in order to qualify for the subsidized NHS rate appropriate to their income level.

And all of it should be easily done every year — either online or in a government agent’s office. And it should be a simplified form so that the entire process takes less than 5 minutes. Keep it simple!

  • Name
  • Address
  • Work or University address
  • Income tax ID number
  • Pay £100 per family member here via credit card

UK citizens that live, work, or retire in the European Union should receive corresponding privileges — the only difference being the value of the currency — the €100 annual fee per expat vs. the £100 annual fee per expat.

Issues of Law and (worryingly) Issues of Precedent arise

Some (very unreasonable) EU people suggest that EU laws should apply in Britain! (Yes, some people have actually said that aloud)

Do I have to say it? It is the very definition of Bureaucracy Run Amok!

And further, they’ve stated that EU citizens living in Britain should be bound by EU laws, and any court proceedings that involve EU citizens living in Britain would need to be conducted in an EU-court located somewhere in Britain. Facepalm!

It’s one of the most absurd things I’ve heard, and people who suggest such things need years of psychological treatment (You need to be deprogrammed Comrade Bureaucrat, as you’re no longer in the Collective!) and remains true EVEN IF they support having British courts in the European Union to adjudicate Britons who break UK laws while in the EU.

Stop the insanity!

FACT: The Colonial Era is over. FACT: The United Kingdom was never a colony of the European Union. FACT: The United Kingdom really is leaving the European Union!

Trying to pull such stunts shows how buried in the sand, are some heads in the EU, even at this late Brexit date.

There is only one way it will work

EU citizens must obey the laws and be bound by British courts whenever they are in Britain — and the reverse is just as true — Britons living in the European Union must obey the laws and be bound by EU courts whenever they are in the EU. Full stop! No other choices available!

Although I’d certainly support a reciprocal incarceration agreement, whereby once sentenced, a UK citizen (for example) could apply to serve out his/her prison time in a United Kingdom prison instead of in the EU where he or she broke EU laws.

EU citizens who break the law in the United Kingdom should likewise be offered the opportunity to serve out their prison term in the EU.

And all of it should be simplified and standardized, so that any such prisoner requests could be completed within 48 hours. People in prison have families too — and why exactly should they be punished?


Once we ditch the crazy people from the negotiations, mutual interests should prevail and allow the economies of Europe, a common European defence, commerce, industry, and family ties to remain unaffected, and in some ways improved. Above all else, overall improvement should be the goal for negotiators.

Theresa May’s Weird Winning Strategy

by John Brian Shannon

As of this writing (5:00am BST, June 9, 2017) election results for the UK General Election are beginning to trickle-in and pundits are lining up to lambaste Prime Minister Theresa May for calling a snap election while in majority government, and then losing the majority just as the UK is poised to head into Brexit negotiations.

‘Oh yes. She fumbled it. Absolutely.’ Said every headline.

And on the surface, that’s what it looks like.

Surely, any majority government that calls an election they don’t need, becoming a minority government in the process, are losers. What else could it be?

But what if Theresa May is smarter than pundits realize?

Short-term pain, for long-term gain?

Maybe. She’s a shrewd operator. Although she can seem cold, standoffish, and even awkward in certain situations, it also seems she’s a patriot who was willing to ‘take a hit for the team’ in order to realize her dream of ‘Building a Better Britain’.

What if everything she’s done has been done with great purpose and resolve, balancing huge risk to her standing as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and to her party fortunes in order to accomplish some great goal that will eventually result in a better Britain?

What if Theresa May has been playing chess whilst everyone else has been playing checkers?

Viewing the UK through a Prime Minister’s lens

Holding a snap election vs. not holding a snap election.

What would be the point of staging a successful getaway from the European Union, and then with the SNP still powerful because it was holding 56 seats, the SNP decided to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom via (post-Brexit) Indyref after Indyref?

Wouldn’t it follow that either Northern Ireland or Wales might then consider staging their own independence referendums and possibly leave the United Kingdom?

What if both devolved territories followed Scotland out of the United Kingdom?

Suddenly, there would be no more ‘United’ in the name United Kingdom, only England remaining.

At that point, the European Union would probably prevail upon the newly independent territories to join the EU — and if successful at that, the EU would become emboldened to invite London into the EU family by promoting London referendum after London referendum.

Had Theresa May not called a snap election, she might have left the SNP in a powerful position, with Scotland leaving the UK (post-Brexit) and the SNP inviting both Northern Ireland and Wales to leave the UK with Scotland.

Such are the matters that keep Prime Ministers awake at night.

Trading a majority, for a Kingdom that remains United

It appears that Theresa May knew what she was doing all along — she chanced losing a majority in the House of Commons for a chance to stick it to the SNP.

Yes, it cost her. But because of the 2017 election results the SNP is now a weaker force, with much less momentum than it had pre-election. Momentum that could have been used in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe to break up the United Kingdom.

Such is the nature of strategy; In order to safeguard the ‘United’ part of the name ‘United Kingdom’ Theresa May used her tactical assets to accomplish those goals.

And that’s the difference between strategists and tacticians. Master strategists like Winston Churchill won WWII, but were forced to expend many of their tactical assets to do so.

(Read about the Battle of Britain to fully understand how this played out in WWII. Many times it may have looked like Britain was losing the war, or at least taking a severe beating, when in fact Winston was setting the Nazis up for later defeat. And he did it in broad daylight, right under everyone’s noses, including his own staff)

Is Theresa May that good? In broad daylight, quite under everyone’s noses, did May just save us from a SNP-led break up of the United Kingdom in the post-Brexit period?

Let the facts speak for themselves

Prime Minister Theresa May spent some of her chips in order to take down the SNP — the same SNP that represented the number one threat to the UK remaining united in a post-Brexit Europe.

Now that the SNP has lost a significant number of seats to Labour and Conservatives alike, the SNP is no longer the threat to UK continuity, harmony, and stability it once was.

In baseball parlance, this is known as a ‘force play‘ when the base runner is in a position to score a point and is forced by the playmaker to run towards home plate knowing full well they’ll be ‘tagged out’ in the process.

If that’s what Theresa May is up to, she’s playing the game of politics at a level far above the understanding of her critics, and it also means she’s a true British patriot, a citizen par excellence, of a permanently United Kingdom.

Having weakened the greatest potential threat to UK unity in decades, the noble Theresa May can now proceed with a safe Brexit — a Brexit where the United Kingdom doesn’t risk losing Scotland, or Northern Ireland, or Wales, in the process.

Well done, Theresa! Right… under… their… noses!

Should We Deal With Extremism’s Roots or Apply Band-aid Solutions?

by John Brian Shannon

Is it better to focus on policing, courtroom dramas and the astronomical incarceration costs for convicted terrorists, or is it better to gain an understanding of deviant belief systems and actively ‘de-programme’ those individuals before they commit horrific terrorist attacks?

Surely, normal people don’t wake up, hop down to the market, and blow it up while they’re there.

But for reasons inexplicable to us, some people have adopted a different narrative than the vast majority of people who live in the UK. And because it’s such a toxic ideology, one that is completely contrary to normative human behavior, it means it can’t be learned overnight.

All of us, every single human on the planet, was born perfect; ‘Never having sinned’ as they used to say.

No one was ever born with a knife in hand ready to kill other humans at the drop of a hat.

No, major life changes happened in their formative or late-formative years causing them to slip far from the perfect state they once embodied.

The Question Is: Should We Spend Our Funds On An Endless Cycle Of Police, Courtroom, and Incarceration Costs, or Should We Spend The Time And Effort Required to Counter Such Deviant Thinking?

Thus far, higher police budgets, higher court costs, and astronomical incarceration costs have ruled the day.

But as we’ve seen it’s done nothing to stop terror attacks. On the contrary, terror attacks are becoming more frequent in the UK and each attack seems to hit a little closer to home.

That’s a subjective view, for certain. But terrorists hitting the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester where most of the crowd was made up of teens enjoying a night out, bookended by terror attacks from knife-wielding attackers in unmarked vans on two of London’s main bridges is getting too close to home.

“If we keep on doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to keep on getting what we’ve been getting.” — Jackie B. Cooper

Of course, the easy answer is to hire more police and clamp down on citizen rights. And in the short-term that’s the best plan to combat terror attacks in UK cities.

However, it’s a band-aid approach and any experienced police detective or counter-terrorism expert will tell you that higher police budgets and evermore restricted civil rights won’t protect society from determined suicide bombers.

At its worst, it turns into a kind of game where police are hot on the trail of false leads laid down by the terrorists, who are sitting in a pub across the street watching the police as they block access to a nearby mailbox (which they’ve been told might have a bomb in it) and in doing their job the police unknowingly show the terrorists how they go about solving that situation.

This is old-hat for the police, MI5, and the British Army units that worked counter-terrorism during ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. They know this, but they’re not about to turn down more funding because more funding will allow them to be in more places, and with better equipment.

But the facts are, that’s a losing hand, long-term.

To wit: No matter how much money was spent on counter-terrorism during ‘the Troubles’ there was still plenty of terrorism.

It wasn’t until a political solution was agreed that ‘the Troubles’ dissipated and the people of Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK now live in relative peace and security.

To wit: No matter how many trillions were spent on the Iraq War, the Afghan War, and the Arab Spring countries, and Syria, etc… we have more terrorism in the West than ever.

More money isn’t the answer. More policing, more counter-terrorism officers at MI5, and higher court and incarceration costs, aren’t the answer.

Yes, some increase in those budgets are justifiable to plug gaps. But increased funding for police and security forces alone will never solve the underlying problem of thousands who’ve been co-opted into the extremist lifestyle.

People Who Live in Strong, Vibrant and Inclusive Communities Don’t Turn to Extremist Ideology

It’s only the people who fall through the cracks that become depressed, angry, and finally decide to bring violent change and ‘make a stand’ for others in their community. Those people are tomorrow’s zealots, extremists, and suicide bombers.

It’s a simple process when measured over time: A lack of inclusivity leads to nonconformity, which leads to lost opportunities, which leads to ghetto communities, which leads to extremist leaders arising and attracting adherents, which leads to terror attacks against the people and groups they feel excluded them in earlier years.

Take careful note of where attacks occur. It’s everything. The House of Commons, centres for tourism and luxurious living, the ‘in’ crowd (or one of the ‘in’ crowds) attending a pop music concert. Exactly the kinds of places and events they weren’t welcomed to visit or enjoy during their teen or young adult years.

‘You excluded us, now you’ll pay.’

No matter how it’s wrapped in ideological BS, it’s a very human but uncultured response to how society made them feel. Amped-up 3000x by those who would exploit young people hurt by the society to which they once tried to belong.

Why Did High Immigration Levels in Early America Work So Well, and Not a Terrorist in the Bunch?

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Excerpt of the Emma Lazarus poem at the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Ellis Island, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Everyone in America is an immigrant. Even the native Indian people originally hailed from Asia some 10,000 years ago. The United States, indeed all of North America is populated by immigrants. And until the first Gulf War in 1990, terrorism had never crossed the minds of most Americans unless they travelled abroad.

How is it then that millions of foreigners relocated to America and there was nary a word about terrorism for well over 200 years, when the whole continent of North America was made up of exceptionally diverse immigrant populations?

Just look at the words that are not mentioned in the Emma Lazarus poem greeting millions of immigrants upon their arrival to America — exclusivity, conformity, and a lack of opportunity leading to ghettoization. The very seeds of extremism and terrorism.

Preventing Toxic Ideologies From Gaining a Foothold in Britain’s Youth

The long-term solution to extremists in Western countries is as simple as adding inclusivity and economic opportunity to the mix. (Busy hands don’t do the Devil’s work. Why? Because, well, they’re too busy earning money and spending it just like the other kids)

A virus in the human body is typically a weak force in an otherwise healthy body. But when the body is in a weakened condition even a normal rhinovirus can wreak havoc or death.

The metaphor here rings true for extremist ideologies (typically a weak force) pedaled to UK youths whom are existing in a mentally weakened state due to a permanent lack of opportunities.

As we have seen, it’s a condition that invites disaster.