Tag Archives: Brexit

A bad case of Brexit blues

I’ve got a bad case of the blues today. Why? Well, this whole property search seems to be all highs and lows and sometimes it’s hard to maintain any optimism. Then something new comes up, something we like, somewhere we can envisage making our home, and that is usually the point where we find a spanner in the works. Yesterday James went out with a friend who showed us a plot that had been for sale and the number to call to enquire about it. He came back excited saying I had to see it so we went down there after lunch, taking DD and DS with us, and had a look around. What did I think? Er, perfect! I loved it. Next steps then: call the owner to ask whether it’s still for sale, check with the Mairie that it’s building land, and job’s a goodun. On the one hand I’m thinking there’s no way this is going to happen, worst case it’s already been sold, so try not to get too excited, but another part of me is thinking, reliable source, should be okay, and I’m already planting up a veggie patch and putting up a swing for the kids. I need to put down some roots, to settle. So we call the owner up today and ask about it and boom, dream over – just like that. No, sorry, not for sale, not now, not in the future. End of. Sob.

Then I catch up with some news this morning and read this on the Guardian website:

EU citizens should collect proof of living in UK, says Helena Kennedy

“EU nationals living in Britain should make a file of documents that prove they have lived in the country since before the June referendum, according to the chair of a House of Lords committee.

Helena Kennedy QC suggested collecting together bills, rental or home ownership documents, employment paperwork, or evidence of appointments for those who do not have jobs.

“Make a file now with proof of your presence [and] supporting letters from people who’ve known you, you have taught you or who you have had business dealings with,” said Lady Kennedy in an interview with the Guardian.

The peer chairs a Lords EU subcommittee that has just completed an investigation into the “acquired rights” of Europeans in the UK and Britons living in continental Europe. She warned of deep anxiety among EU citizens in the UK but also British nationals living on the continent.

After hearing from a series of experts, ambassadors from across Europe and Britons living overseas, the group will on Wednesday call for a unilateral undertaking to immediately guarantee to safeguard the rights of all EU nationals in the UK.”

And now I’m afraid that the future we dream of building is not worth anything anyway. We came after the referendum and, on more than one occasion, I’ve read article suggesting that those arriving before that fateful day can expect different treatment than those arriving after. I fear that our time here will all be for nothing on the day Article 50 is ratified. I fear that we will lose our home (assuming we have one by then), that we will be uprooted, that – if we haven’t had time to set up a business – we will be denied this right. I feel so overwhelmed.

Reading these articles in the news, it all seems so abstract: it’s all talk of trade treaties, economic impacts, geopolitical consequences. And while that might be what our politicians are worried about, it’s really not about that at all because this is all just about people and the lives it affects. People didn’t vote to leave the EU because they are happy with their lives: they voted for change because they lost hope in a future based on business as usual. They didn’t vote to change this or that trade treaty: they voted for a better life than they face today. It does all come down to economics in the end but not at the level our politicians are concerned about because, one thing that is certain, is that the best deal for business is not necessarily the best deal for people unless something is done to address the inequalities that caused this to whole mess in the first place. Without change on that level, at a much deeper level than anyone is talking about right now, the rich will still get richer, while the poor get poorer and many millions who are just about holding it together, in credit up to their eyeballs, are pushed into poverty. Leave voters bought lies peddled by the media, owned by the powerful elites they think their vote is sticking it to, who told them that dangerous immigrants are taking the money for schools, hospitals, and the rest of it, and that’s the reason why their communities are failing. Of course there’s no mention of inequality because capitalists – the rich elites controlling the media, for example, – don’t make the kind of money they think they deserve from a political system that puts distributing wealth and the happiness of all people at it’s heart, when that’s exactly what’s needed to make things better for the majority of the population – and not just in the UK. It’s so sad and frustrating.

James is trying to reassure me: “We’re protected by the Vienna Convention,” he says.” Of course they won’t thrown us out,” he says. Maybe, maybe not, I say. I guess we’ll find out. There’s a campaign, Fair Deal for Expats, which I need to look into. Maybe there are other groups too. It would help if there were an MP we could turn to but it seems you lose your right to representation in parliament the minute you leave. I do plan to write to my old MP just to see what happens. I’ll report back when I get a reply.

In the meantime all we can do is wait and carry on as though everything will be fine because the alternative is to put life on hold, to have no hope. I don’t usually stay miserable for long once I’ve managed to get it out of my system. A bike ride is on the cards and long overdue. I need to get out there and turn the pedals, pushing on up some hills and freewheeling down. Whatever happens Theresa May and her minions can’t take this beautiful December weather away from me – not until 2019 anyway.

 

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Looking on the bright side

Yes, we still have a tonne of things to do. Our days are spent juggling childcare duties with packing boxes, trips to the tip, packaging and posting eBay sales, trips to the charity shop (the local Barnados looks more like our house every day!) and watching movies – lots of U-rated, child-friendly movies late in the afternoon when we’re all burnt out and need some downtime before dinner. It’s quite a long way from the relaxing mat leave I had last time around when my days were filled with baby-oriented classes, leisurely lunches and trips to local towns punctuated with coffee and cake.

Then there’s the sleepless night fog. Not every day; baby #2 turns out to be a sleeper – yay! But that doesn’t mean we’re not knackered most days, which has led to some short-temperedness all round.

Then there’s the worry and stress of moving, made considerably by worse by the uncertainties posed post-Brexit (assuming it happens, at some point). On this front we’re winding each other up with our different attitudes. On my side, I can’t face any of the worry and haven’t got the energy to worry about ifs, buts, and maybes, so I’m focussing on the positives. James, on the other hand, is seeing darkness and danger wherever he looks, which makes for some tricky discussions. Typically, he shares his pessimistic vision with me and I respond by firing up my optimism shield. The result being that he goes away from our conversations in a grump because I don’t want to listen/talk/take on board his concerns and I go away feeling really miserable and pretty drained because he’s bringing me down. Then we had a talk so now James has agreed to let it go and relax a little. This is supposed to be a big adventure and focussing on everything that can go wrong is making me want to sack it all off and get a boring corporate job again. Except that’s the total opposite of what I want to do and what he wants for us all.

What’s bonkers about this is that he was the one who sowed the seed of this dream, this change, and I was always the one who thought it was a big risk and was uncertain about it. Then, as far as I’m concerned, the planets aligned. I was faced with losing my very steady corporate job at the same time as baby #2 was due to arrive. Now feels like the right time and it really seems to me that everything is falling into place. Sure, we may have to make compromises and be open to new ideas and opportunities but that’s part of the fun of making such a huge change, otherwise, why bother? Let’s just stay here and keep everything the same? Or we can just get out there, embrace all the uncertainty, and do it. Looking on the bright side, we’re incredibly lucky to have this opportunity at all and that’s what I keep reminding him. Every day we speak to people who say they would love to do what we’re doing and, for all the different reasons in the world, aren’t and/or can’t. But we are – so I think we owe it to everyone who’s ever thought of throwing it all in and starting up somewhere new and unknown to do it as joyfully as we can. Of course it’s risky, of course Brexit has made it all the more risky (thanks Mum), but we’re doing it anyway. Worst case we get a few years somewhere sunny, learn another language, make some new friends, then are forced back to the grind. Worth a punt, I say!

Reality check

The last few days have been hard. For most of the last few weeks we’ve been focusing entirely on the logistics of our move and with those sorted we’ve had time to turn our attention to cash flow and in the post-Brexit economy it’s not pretty, not at all.

Basically we’re chasing a dream, taking an opportunity – post-redundancy – to take our savings, having taken the strategic decision a while ago to save rather than go down the home “owner” route, and make a new life for ourselves. This means everything we have is earmarked to fund our future. Everything. Right now we have no income; no jobs, just dreams and ideas to take us forward. We want to build something together and give our kids a better future than we feel they can have here in the UK. That was our plan, even before Brexit. But now Brexit has happened, taking a huge chunk of our hopes and dreams with it.

The Remain camp talked about the economic impact of Brexit during their campaign but Gove and his cronies dismissed it as doom mongering, labelling such talk as “Project Fear”, brushing off analysis supporting this claim, which came from the Bank of England, the IMF, and others, because we’re all just so sick of these so-called “experts” and their expert opinions, right? Well wouldn’t you know, these experts were right!

I think one of the reasons James and are have been hit so hard emotionally by Brexit (if you could see our Facebook feeds you’d know this) is because James can read the foreign exchange charts and right now they’re not pretty. The pound is plumetting against the euro, the dollar, and the yen. What this means is that life in Britain just got more expensive because where on 23rd June £10 bought, say, five packs of antidepressants, today it only buys four. That’s really not good news if you’re feeling as miserable as I am but even worse news when considered as part of the bigger picture. UK Plc has been making a slow and steady recovery since the banking crash in 2008, in part due to the horrendous “austerity” budgeting imposed on us all but having the greatest impact on poorest and most in need. Tragically, the decision of many to vote Leave – whether voting in protest, longing for the good old days, wanting to “restore” sovereignty, or purely because they have been suckered into blaming immigrants for many of their woes (and blame the EU for just about everything else, as politicians would have them believe) – has effectively caused as much financial damage as the banking sector did with their mishandling of just about everything back in 2008. The main difference now is there’s no Fred Goodwin or any other highly paid executive to take the fall or the blame for it as we are all going to pay for this. The Leave voters, along with everyone else who saw this coming and tried to warn them, are about to pay what amounts to collective punishment as the weak pound, which will take who knows how long to recover, erodes all our quality of life.

In short, anyone planning to escape the UK, as we are, had better do it fast. Not just because our EU citizenship is under threat, meaning we can no longer take freedom of movement for granted, but also because as each day passes we become that little bit poorer because the value of the pound is falling and falling. Can you imagine a reality where you get <1 euro to the pound? Well it could happen.

Happy days? Not even close. And if, like us, you were planning to depart for the continent any time soon, the repercussions are up close and personal.

And I still haven’t talked to my parents. Guess which way they voted?

Leave won so it’s time to leave

Okay so we were planning to leave anyway but with things as they stand, which is in a cesspool of uncertainty, we’re going sooner than we originally planned. While I could quite easily freak out at going before I’ve had chance to say goodbye to many of my friends, which I was hoping to on a more leisurely timetable, it will be nice to be able to enjoy some warmer days and not just be there for late autumn and winter. We’re going to take a few week to recuperate after the busy and stressful weeks and months leading up to the move. We can go to the beach, swim in the lake, chill on the terrace. Actually, I can’t wait.  I’m sure many of our friends could be persuaded to come out and visit!

The dark side of all this though is that our planned move will now all take place in the shadow of uncertainty. If Article 50 is triggered what will come out the other side? Will we have access to healthcare and schooling for the kids, can we set up a business, how will we be taxed? These and a zillion other questions have kept us awake for a few nights now and at one point we considered that maybe we shouldn’t go until we know the answers. Then we pulled ourselves together and thought, sod it, let’s go! Worst case we spend a couple of years living in a new country, learning the language and soaking up the culture. At the end of that time we’ll have enriched our lives and spent two wonderful, carefree years with our young children at the time when they need us most. Worst case we move on in a couple of years and go where the wind blows. If we can get somewhere with our French language skills – given I’d need to return to having a “proper” job – maybe Canada, maybe somewhere else in Europe. The worst that could happen is that we end up back in the UK, in which case there’s always Scotland! So yes, we could stay here, live as we are now, put up with the rain, the collapsing economy, and wallow in the mess that the UK has become, or we can take a leap into the void. When I put it like that, we’d be crazy to stay.