Monday, June 27, 2016

Britain Leaves the EU

Today as we in Britain are reeling from the shock of a totally unexpected vote to leave the European Union, it's difficult for me to think about any thing else.

Final polls on the day had 'Remain' anything up to ten points ahead.  The market and the foreign exchanges had rallied days before on the basis of private polls.  I went to sleep, comfortable in the assurance that in the morning it would be business as usual, woke around 2am and decided to check just how big the margin of victory would be -  and slept not at all after that.

Not that I'm a big fan of the EU.  My comment to my husband as we left the polling booth was, 'I held my nose and voted for Europe.'  The arrogance of the Brussels bureaucratic administration has left them with few fans in many of the countries they administer, though the ones who get out much more than they put in (all except Germany, France and Britain) can't afford to do anything other than stay.

To be fair to those who voted 'Leave', Britain, a country of only 65 million and  with a small landmass, had to absorb  500,000 immigrants last year, all looking for housing, schooling, welfare benefits and our free Health Service.  If you are highly-educated or otherwise wealthy, you can avoid the problems; those who gave 'Leave' their majority were those who had seen their wages undercut and their way of life and culture threatened.   Ironically, it is they who will pay the financial price in unemployment and austerity.

As a Scot, I have a particular problem.  The Scots voted massively to stay in the EU and now it looks highly likely that Scotland's Nationalist First Minister will demand a second referendum to spilt Scotland from England in order to stay in the EU. Last time, she failed; this time, she will probably succeed.

I'm Scots to my backbone.  Looking back through the family tree, I don't think I have a drop of English blood in my veins.  But I have English grandchildren.  I have a multitude of English friends.  I have spent ten years of my life living there.  My agent and my editor are English.  The first books I wrote had an English setting.

If we find ourselves on the other side of an EU border, I will need a passport to visit.  Yes of course, there could be an arrangement, but Scotland has said it welcomes European immigrants and in the present climate of opinion England is not going to leave the back door open once it has got the front door firmly bolted.

And will book sales between the United States and Britain be affected?  I don't know the mechanics of this, but when President Obama visited he said that if it came to trade agreements a Britain that was outside the EU would 'go to the back of the queue'.  (This attitude to the so-called 'special relationship' boosted the 'Leave' vote by three percentage points.)

I am, quite honestly, dismayed and very depressed. ISIS and Vladimir Putin are openly rejoicing.  If other countries in the EU also start demanding referenda - as some of them are already - and Europe falls apart it seems to me that the world which is in enough of a mess already, will become an even more ugly and dangerous place.

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