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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.
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!
- 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.
What results can Britons hope for during the next two-years of Brexit negotiations?
In the aftermath of the UK General Election 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May has her work cut out for her.
With the whole country and indeed the world looking on, Brexit negotiations are set to begin next week. One note that inspires some early confidence is the mild but useful cabinet shuffle announced by PM May at the weekend.
PM Theresa May must gain control of borders and the numbers of people allowed into the UK
It’s become clear over many months that immigration levels are seen by many citizens as too high and that far too much ‘catering’ to the needs of refugees and economic immigrants has been allowed to occur.
Of course it makes sense to take care of people new to the country and few would begrudge decent treatment for people looking for a better life free from persecution in the case of refugees, and in the case of economic migrants, having the ability to earn a living and have a shot at a real life.
However, when the migrants seem to be doing better than the 13 million Britons who make up the bottom economic quintile group it’s a sign that adjustments are in order.
NOTE: The UK’s bottom economic quintile group report average incomes of £6146 (original income) £13,841 (final income) and £11,883 (disposable income) — UK.gov stats
Either because of entry-level or part-time work for younger workers, or diminishing opportunities for mid-career workers, or poor opportunities for higher education during their younger years in the case of older workers — this quintile suffers from lower-income, poorer health, poorer housing, and lower life satisfaction index scores.
They also die younger, spend more time in hospitals, and as a quintile have more dealings with police and security agencies. Through no fault of their own (as offshoring of jobs isn’t their fault, nor is increased immigration where lower paying jobs are taken by cheaper labour immigrant workers) this group costs the UK economy billions of pounds sterling every year.
If there were jobs available for the people in the bottom quintile they would take them, and no longer find themselves in the bottom fifth with all the attendant costs to themselves, their families, and to UK society
But the simple fact is, in the UK there are many more people looking for work, than there are jobs available — and this is particularly true since the beginning of the influx of eastern European immigrants and refugees from other regions.
This means ‘hard’ borders with real border guards and guns. It means people must be turned away if they don’t meet all of the requirements to enter the country and it means that those non-UK-citizens presently in the country must register their status with the Home Office by January 1st of each year, with updated address, phone number, employment details, or if a student their university details, etc. and pay an annual fee of 100 pounds sterling to the Home Office.
It really isn’t much to ask when the positive is that they get to live in one of the best countries on the planet.
PM Theresa May must insure that all offshore areas presently under EU jurisdiction and formerly under the jurisdiction of Great Britain, must be returned to the UK
UK fishers, those in the undersea resource extraction field, and corporations that build wind turbine installations in the North Sea were under the nominal authority of the EU while the UK was a member of the European Union, however, now that the UK is leaving the EU, maritime borders must revert to their previous status.
Not only will jurisdiction revert to the United Kingdom, but the responsibility to patrol and protect those waterways will once again fall to the Royal Navy and the RAF.
The primary responsibility of every government on the planet is to protect its citizens, and that means spending significant time and resources to protect the land, sea, and air boundaries of the country. Real countries don’t ‘contract it out’ to other nations. If you want it done right, do it yourself.
I hope Theresa May won’t get shouted down by EU negotiators on this primary and important aspect of statehood.
Not only are the fishing zones rich, but so are the undersea resources, as are the wind resources for corporations that spend billions to build offshore wind farms.
In their entirety, UK marine zones represent almost uncountable riches, and the European Union can’t be happy about losing their claim on these abundant waters.
PM Theresa May must negotiate a reciprocal expat agreement that works for both UK and EU expats
At present, 1.3 million British citizens live in the EU, while 3.3 million EU citizens live in the United Kingdom.
But neither the European Union nor the United Kingdom has any particular obligation to host the others’ citizens after Brexit.
For example, EU citizens living in the UK have no special status and the UK isn’t obligated to allow them to continue to live or work in a post-Brexit Britain. The same is true for Britons presently living in the EU whether they are working on the continent, attending university there, or have retired in the European Union.
One would like to think a standardized agreement for reciprocal expat rights can be signed immediately between the two blocs.
But it’s a situation where the benefits to politicians are relatively small, as only tiny numbers of voters are involved out of Europe’s total population of 504 million.
In the (hypothetical) worst-case scenario, three times as many EU citizens would be required to return to the EU — while only 1.3 million Britons would be required to leave the European Union following Brexit.
Wouldn’t it be great if politicians could agree on a standardized bill of rights for all European expats?
Instead of the usual tug-of-war where the only eventuality is a ‘Win-Lose’ outcome, all European leaders should broaden their worldview and seek a pan-European ‘Win-Win’ agreement that works for all expats.
Goodwill and a ‘Win-Win’ attitude will be everything in regards to successful Brexit negotiations
Without those two ingredients, leaders on both sides will buy themselves years of misery and bad polls: But by employing those ingredients in generous measure, European leaders on both sides of the Brexit negotiations will prove their world-class credentials and abilities to 7.4 billion onlookers.
Imagine every UK citizen — including those serving in government working to obtain the best Brexit for all Britons — sitting down with a clean sheet of paper to write out the very best future that we could hope to obtain for British citizens, factoring-in our present level of understanding, our natural resources, our labour force, the available technology in 2017 and of course, our (very) human psychology.
It’s such a good idea — why do anything else?
Write the Future You Want
Therefore, let’s start fresh and write out the best possible future for the citizens of the United Kingdom — and just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that we must always do things that way.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would’ve asked for faster horses.” — Henry Ford
Yes! Exactly! Henry Ford was right.
Which is why we now drive capable, safe, and luxurious cars, instead of riding horses specially bred for speed and long distance.
It’s called ‘that Vision thing’ and one of the foremost ‘Visioneers’ in history was… you guessed it, Henry Ford.
Not that Henry was the only one. But it takes a special kind of inspiration to look around and realize that changes are long overdue.
The ‘Win-Lose paradigm’ a.k.a. ‘The Law of the Jungle’ must disappear into the dustbin of history if we’re to survive as a species. Unfortunately, we’ve not yet seen enough of the ‘Win-Win’ vision thing, and here we are well into the 21st-century.
How Does This Thinking Apply to the UK / EU Relationship?
Were the leaders of the UK and of the EU to sit down with a clean sheet and write out the best possible future for their respective citizens, no doubt, it would look very different from the present articles of debate.
Every military person will tell you the quickest way to lose a war is to constantly defend bad positions. And that’s true in politics and in life. Far better to take an objective look at a situation, write out the best possible outcome, and always work to that script.
It’s the way of the world, and what appears as indefensible positions now will seem completely ridiculous positions a year or a decade from now.
At the very least, when we start out with a clean sheet, we start from the most positive position — instead of defending an evolved (bad) position.
Teach Us to be Part of the Solution, Instead of Part of the Problem!
Every day, we teach others how to treat us. We must always be mindful what we’re teaching others.
If we teach them that threats of violence get us to the negotiating table, we’ve taught them to be our abusers!
If, as a professional courtesy, we forward our policy proposals to them ahead of upcoming meetings with them — we’re teaching them to treat us as part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
If we teach them that we’re willing to be responsible for our items of responsibility, we’re sending the signal that we expect the same from them.
In Any Relationship, Problems Will Crop Up
It’s how you handle them that counts!
Putting on a great big voice and shouting via the media, “You owe us 100 billion euros to pay for projected future liabilities and we want the money NOW!” isn’t the best way to teach others how to treat us.
And with that kind of tone, the response will always be negative.
Such statements are the best way to make UK citizens and politicians part of the problem, instead of part of the solution.
That’s not the way to solve (what probably is) a very real problem. No doubt there will be financial costs associated with Brexit, and both sides may incur different kinds of costs, and all of it must be fairly and carefully worked out between the parties.
The EU doesn’t want to get stuck paying billions of euros worth of future pension or other social expenditures for UK citizens who work or once worked in the European Union. And that’s reasonable. Who could blame them?
I hope Prime Minister Theresa May, fresh from her council election victories, contacts the appropriate EU politicians and magnanimously expresses to them that there won’t be any problem with Britain meeting it’s commitments to the EU, and further, invites them to a working lunch at Downing Street to ask them to generally inform her and the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the concerns held by senior EU politicians regarding future British liabilities to the Union.
Not that anything should be decided then! Far from it. But European Union officials should feel comfortable enough to express their concerns and to inform the Prime Minister how they arrived at those particular numbers.
If Theresa May plays that role well, she will disarm potential EU opponents and cause them to want to show up with reasonable and defensible numbers, and they’ll arrive there in a spirit of mutual problem-solving.
Which is the only way it’s going to work.
Both sides need to get it through their heads; Brexit is either going to become a ‘Win-Win’ proposition, or it will become bloody-hell for both sides. As an educated person who lives in the 21st-century, you already know that ‘bloody-hell’ is a ‘Lose-Lose’ proposition.
And only fools engage in ‘Lose-Lose’.