Our Brexit Busting Plan

031
St Lucia – but is it still paradise if you can’t leave?

In St Lucia on my 40th birthday, a local told us, “I wish I had a French passport, then I would be able to travel freely, wherever I want.”

Effectively, he couldn’t leave the island. To travel almost anywhere in the world, he needed a visa, which he could only obtain from Barbados. St Lucia is poor. With 30% unemployment, the likelihood of most St Lucians being able to afford to travel to Barbados to get a visa was close to zero. The man did not have Freedom of Movement; his options were limited. He could not choose where to go to live and work nor could he go elsewhere for a holiday, to study or to better himself. He lived in what we would call paradise, but we had choices. For him, it might as well have been a prison.

I remember feeling humbled. By an accident of birth, I held a British passport; one of the most powerful passports in the world. I realised that I took my freedom to travel so much for granted that until then, I had never even given it a thought.

Brexit_Travel_restrictions
‘British’ – The Passport formerly known as the most powerful in the world

On the morning of Friday 13th December 2019, we awoke with the same sinking feeling as we did on June 24th 2016, the day that Britain voted to leave the E.U.

On Friday 13th, Boris Johnson swept into Downing Street with a decisive majority, giving free rein to him and the E.R.G., the extreme right wing faction behind Brexit, who have been pulling the strings in the Conservative party. Despite Pro-Remain and Pro-Second Referendum parties getting more votes than Johnson’s Conservatives in the General Election, Britain’s first-past-the-post system crushed all hope of the electorate being given a chance to reconsider the important facts that have come to light since 2016, along with any likelihood of a soft Brexit.

I am not 100% a fan of the E.U.; like any large organisation, it has its faults. However, no-one can deny that it has presided over an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity in a previously war-torn region of the world. I grew up in the 1970s, before Britain joined the E.E.C. as it was then. Those were ‘The Good Old Days’ – when the U.K. was justly known as ‘the poor man of Europe’, with its soaring inflation, record unemployment, power cuts, shortages and strikes. The U.K. joined the E.E.C. for fear of political and economic isolation in Western Europe. Unfortunately, I can’t see what has changed.

The British tabloid press has pursued a campaign of misinformation against the E.U. for decades. I respect that others have different opinions. However, despite its shortcomings, I believe that the UK’s fortunes would be better served as part of a larger entity in a world where China, Iran and Russia recently collaborated on military exercises and the U.S.A. is governed by Trump. Britain is physically part of Europe. Brexit will weaken Europe, and this inevitably poses a risk to the U.K. in these dangerous and uncertain times.

Weep for Britain

On 31st January 2020, I wept for Britain. The U.K. left the E.U. and entered a Transition Period, which is due to end on December 31st 2020, whether or not a deal has been struck. Johnson is adamant that there will be no extension.

It seems highly unlikely that a meaningful deal can be negotiated in a matter of months. Insisting upon such a short and arbitrary timescale suggests to me that this is the plan.

Johnson illegally closed down Parliament in an attempt to prevent elected representatives from blocking a No Deal Brexit, which the Government’s own documents suggested would be catastrophic. The blatant lies and financial impropriety of the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign have been reported; the large, personal financial gains to be made by prominent ‘Vote Leave’ campaigners are known; Brexiteers who offshore their assets to avoid tax will avoid scrutiny by forthcoming E.U. legislation; prior to the election, Johnson sacked every moderate in his party who opposed him; the report on Russian interference in the referendum remains suppressed along with the investigation into Johnson’s misuse of public funds. In global democracy indices, I am sad to see that Britain, once named ‘The Mother of All Parliaments” is now classified as a ‘flawed democracy‘.

So, although ‘Leave’ won by just over half in 2016, if indeed they did win at all, the likely outcome for the other nearly half looks like being the hardest and most damaging Brexit possible, putting the economy, jobs, the U.K.’s Union, peace in Northern Ireland, food safety, the environment, workers’ rights, the N.H.S., the value of Sterling and national security at risk. (See The Implications of Brexit a report by British international asset management company Schroders plc.) 

The Henley Passport Index shows that since 2015, the British passport has slid from the Number One spot to number eight. Currently, Brits can travel visa-free or visa-on-entry to 184 of the 195 countries in the world. But that is about to change.

Brexit-Busting
British passport holders used to have the whole world in their hands…

Loss of Freedom of Movement for British nationals in the E.U. because of Brexit looks inevitable. After the Transition Period, we will be able to spend only 90 days in every rolling 180 day period in the whole of the Schengen area; currently 26 countries but growing, with the likes of Romania and Bulgaria committed to join. If Mark and I spend half of another winter ski season in Italy, we won’t even be able to drive through Europe to go elsewhere. So we have been seeking a solution.

“I’ve had enough of Britain. Let’s go to Mongolia,” I said to Mark.

I was only half joking.

Brexit_Busting
“Let’s go to Mongolia.”

This is one of the reasons that I have been so quiet lately. Mongolia is a country three times the size of France with only three paved roads. Although Big Blue and Kismet have been reliable and well-behaved in conducting us across the Carpathian Mountains and the odd cornfield in Romania, traversing the Gobi desert could be a step too far.

So meet The Beast. She is a Volvo N10 6 x 4 truck, apparently capable of being driven on the moon. She has spent her working life since the early 1990s in the Belgian army; we bought her from a dealer in Holland and Mark will shortly be driving her back to the U.K. on Austrian plates. There, she will be converted into our new home.

Volvo_N_10
The Beast – Our Brexit-Busting home from late 2020 onwards

We have had a few hurdles to jump through; we let Mark’s L.G.V licence lapse last September because, “You’re not likely to need that again!”

Thankfully, since we are in Italy and the U.K. is in the Transition Period, during which our relationship with the E.U. has not changed, Mark was able to get his lorry licence renewed without having to return to Britain. And we won’t have to pay two lots of V.A.T when we import The Beast.

From 1st January 2021, importing anything from the E.U. will be significantly less straightforward.

John Steinbeck was starkly prophetic when he said that if he wanted to destroy a nation, he would give it too much, and would quickly have it on its knees; miserable, greedy and sick.

There will be no-one happier than me if Brexit goes well, but however hard I look at the facts, I fail to see how it will work. I voted ‘Remain’ for much more than the impact that it will have on our lifestyle. Until Brexit revealed the true colours of too many of my countrymen, I was proud to be British. Now I am ashamed.

Unfortunately, as U.K. citizens, I can’t help thinking that we have taken democracy and our incredible rights and privileges so much for granted that we have simply given them away freely. 

Brexit

For more information on travel post Brexit, please see Brexit Blues – How Brexit Will Affect European Travel and Pet Travel Post Brexit.

The other reason I have been so quiet lately is because I have been finishing off my new book.

Pups on Piste – A Ski Season in Italy is now available on Amazon. See my Books section for more details, although do feel free to click through and buy it straight away! 

BookBrushImage-2020-1-8-8-4757

 

16 thoughts on “Our Brexit Busting Plan

  1. Sometimes I think we only learn the hard way and voting in idiotic governments seems to be a bit of a trend across the globe at the moment. I was stunned when Britain voted for brexit, it defied common sense but hopefully you will transition to something workable. Very envious of the beast and the kind of adventures that will take you on.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Well, we have to live with these things and make the best of them. You seem to have the same problem with a government who still seems to be in denial when the whole country is on fire. I just hope that the human race will learn and heed the lessons before it is too late!
    We are beside ourselves with excitement about The Beast. I have always wanted to go to Mongolia. Just need to remember to live in the moment and enjoy the adventures that we’re having and the one that’s coming up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, that’s awesome!! We’d love a unimog to travel in, at the moment I’m trying to convince my partner to do an overland trip back home 🇦🇺 in our jeep when our visa ends 😊. Re Brexit, I know the media down south is squashing the seriousness of it but there is an intensified support for independence in Scotland at the moment and while it might take a while, there is there intention to rejoin the EU if and when it happens, maybe a loop hole there for you?? Enjoy your amazing travels, you never know what opportunity lies around the corner. What a great new adventure you have in store with the beast!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – and best of luck with your persuasion regarding the AU adventure. 🙂 I shall be keeping you posted with progress on The Beast, so perhaps that will excite your OH!
      Thankfully, Mark and I are both stupidly optimistic and great believers in ‘there is always a solution’. If Scotland does go for independence and rejoin the EU, we can get Scottish European citizenship, since Mark’s Dad was born in Milngavie, Glasgae. Mark even got married in a kilt!
      Brexit is inconvenient for us, but my main sadness is the pain that it will cause and how it has already changed the mentality in England. (I can’t really speak for Wales, NI and Scotland.)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. After reading your post I am feeling rather downhearted and I mourn for the UK. I am one of the ‘lucky’ ones who, despite having been born and raised in the UK, trained and worked there, am in the situation that I can live in France and have an Irish passport (also a UK passport), allowing me to remain here and to travel at will. I suppose that we really do take freedom of movement for granted.
    On a cheery note, I will wait with great excitement to see what comes of the Beast….fun times ahead! Good luck and looking forward to your next posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very fortunate with your ancestry! My predecessors had the audacity to leave Ireland a generation early, otherwise I would be sorted! If Scotland leaves the UK we will be fine, since Mark’s Dad was born in Glasgow. 🙂
      There is always a solution, however, and for now, ours is The Beast!
      Sadly, I think the UK has chosen the way of pain, which is very sad. In spite of austerity, having toured Europe, I really don’t think that Britons realise quite how good they’ve had it.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s