The Truth About Brexit

Por Tom

Once upon a time, in a house at number ten in a small quiet street called Downing Street, a man – David – sat at his kitchen table thinking intensely. He borrowed his brow with concentration. His problem? How to convince the British public that he, David, was worthy of their trust, and at the same time demonstrate that the British public wanted to stay in the European Union, with all its rules and regulations, advantages and disadvantages.

Suddenly, his face split in two, as a huge smile was born. A foolproof idea had occurred to him. A referendum. He would give the public the chance to vote in the future of the country, and at the same time he would confirm his own trust in the very same public and therefore demonstrate that he had their best interests at heart.


During the following months, there was a concerted effort in favor of leaving the Union (and a couple of guys mentioned from time to time that that it was probably a bad idea…but barely anyone saw or heard them).

The famous Brexit bus for example, explaining how much money we would save when we got out, to then be able to spend on the national health service.

They said things such as:

  • “Nobody is threatening our place in the single market” Daniel Hannan (MP)
  • “We will recover 350 million pounds a week” Boris Johnson (ex-foreign secretary and possible new conservative party leader)
  • “The United Kingdom loses a lot as the other members of the Union are in favour of a perfectionist and regulated economy” Jacob Rees-Mogg (MP)
  • “The European Union isn’t elected” Nigel Farage (ironically European member of parliament)

In spite of the furious activity by the people in favor of leaving, in general the people talked only of the ridiculousness of the idea, and what would happen in the disastrous event of en exit, we laughed uproariously and continued drinking our pints (of German, Belgian and French beer).

The 23rd of June 2016 would be the marvellous day of the referendum. The decision – in or out of the European Union. Easy.

The British voted (as did I by post!). We were divided into leavers and remainers.

The result was published:
Leave: 51.89%
Remain: 48.11%

Friendships were torn asunder, families breached, and my mother rang me at 5 in the morning (Thomas, you must come home immediately, I mean now!) convinced that I would be declared an illegal immigrant in Spain the following day.

Nobody could believe it.

Interviewing people on the streets the next day, reporters asked many “what did you vote and why?” The number of people who answered that they had voted ‘leave’ for reasons such as “for fun,” “my friends dared me to,” or “it was just a joke,” was astonishing.

The most-searched term in Google on July 24th in the UK was “what is the European Union?”

Dear David, seeing the outcome of his bet, resigned and disappeared.

Another important thing to bear in mind: many of the things said about the vast quantities of money that would be saved in the event of exiting the union, the control we would have over immigration etc, turned out to be almost entirely false. The excuses varied between “we made a mistake,” or “ah, yes, it was a lie, oops” (and they say Spanish politicians are bare faced).

Theresa May assumed control, and, after pledging that there would be no general election, immediately called for a general election. She won, but not by outright majority, and formed a coalition government

This is where things start to get interesting…

Theresa May has repeated various times that to reach a bad deal would be worse than no deal. Her version of an appropriate deal:

  1. Leaving the European Union on 29th March 2019.
  2. A complete end to freedom of movement, taking back control of our borders.
  3. An end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK, restoring the supremacy of British courts.
  4. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU – instead a Brexit dividend to spend on domestic priorities like our long-term plan for the NHS.
  5. Frictionless trade in goods and flexibility on services.
  6. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
  7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.
  8. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.
  9. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.
  10. The freedom to strike new trade deals around the world – and we’re already consulting on these.
  11. Continued security co-operation to keep our people safe.
  12. An independent foreign and defence policy.

Who is in favour of the idea? The proposal has not been popular. The members of the European Parliament laughed in the Prime Minister’s face, Jeremy Corbyn has condemned it, even members of the party which Theresa May (currently) leads have said it is a disaster.

La primera ministra tragando agua. (EFE)

In my humble opinion this is not so surprising a fact – the list gives the impression that the UK is saying to the EU “we don’t want to play with you anymore, but we’ll take our favourite toys, OK?”

Distinct groups are now assaulting Theresa from all sides. Some want to change the Brexit so that it is harder; more of a real exit, a severing of ties, others want to change the prerequisites, there are still more that want to vote in a new referendum and completely abolish the idea of leaving the Union entirely.

What does Brexit mean for the people that will find themselves affected? A very pertinent question, and still completely unanswerable. Several months ago it fell upon the ears of the public that the foreign people who had been resident in the UK for more than five years would be safe, if they have solid employment. The problem now became that many businesses and companies fled after the vote, others reduced their operations in the country, leaving many employees suddenly, ex-employees. I know at least one Spanish family, with a baby born in the UK, that has been separated when the office in which the mother worked closed. The company offered her work back in Spain, very nice, but the British baby could stay, and the father, currently employed, was also permitted to stay, but the mother was not.

There are many similar stories.

There is the famous case of a Romanian man who arrived in the UK, requesting emergency accommodation. The ministry of the interior sent him a letter telling him it would be a better idea for him to return to his country so that he didn’t have to live in poverty on the street.

The future of the British in Spain is also a cloudy affair. Depending on the type of Brexit, it could be more or less easy to live in Spain. Changes in passport status, or new financial laws could complicate life significantly for the retired drawing a pension from the UK for example.

The situation today is that within six months, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. From my point of view, it seems as though the UK has gone to dinner in a Michelin starred restaurante, eaten and drunk its fill, and attempted to pay by card…only to discover that only cash is accepted. There are no cash points close by to get cash, and the only option is to stay in the restaurant, washing dishes and regretting every delicious mouthful of food and swig of wine until the debt is paid.

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