Brexit: as the realists amongst us say – the gift that keeps on giving. Before we delve into more of the joys of the post Brexit reality that awaits us let’s glance across the pond, now that Joe Biden has been formally endorsed as US President by the electoral college.
With Biden in charge, the UK will be sidelined as he focuses on the global power blocs, of which the EU is the one closest to Britain but now quite separate. Much has been said about Biden’s Irish ancestry, and the government’s readiness to break international law by reneging on aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement it signed with the EU have not gone down well with the President elect, as this lawbreaking would have directly impacted on the Good Friday agreement. The fact that the government changed its mind last week hardly inspires confidence in their trustworthiness.
Looking back one more time across the pond, one of Biden’s colleagues called our PM a ‘shape-shifting creep’. He might say that; I couldn’t possibly comment.
Travelling to Europe
Remember ‘take back control’? The US election demonstrates how little control we will have from January 1st 2021. Travelling to Europe will become a much more complicated and expensive business, whether it be your pet’s passport, the health insurance you will need to take out, ensuring you have more than 6 months left on your passport, and on arrival taking longer to enter a EU country as a citizen of a third country.
Property in Europe
Thousands of British citizens own properties in Europe. The Brexiters’ removal of our freedom of movement means that from next year the amount of time these people will be allowed to spend in their European home will be 3 months, and they will have to wait for 3 months before they are allowed to return there. Who’s in control here?
Furthermore, thousands of Britons living in the EU will have their UK bank accounts closed by the end of the year. Several major High Street banks have informed retail and business customers that they will lose their accounts before or when the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December and more banks are expected to follow suit. This is because financial services in the UK can currently trade across the European Economic Area (EEA) because member countries are bound by the same regulatory framework. The arrangement, known as “passporting”, expires at the end of the year and, while the UK has legislated so that EU banks can continue to provide services for customers in Britain, the EU has not done the same. Isn’t taking back control fun?
One of the sticking points in the trade negotiations with the EU has been about the UK’s possible divergence from EU standards and regulations in the future. Judging from some of our government’s behaviour and back tracking on, for example, refugees’ rights, you might expect the EU to insist on compliance in these areas in the future.
While the United Kingdom has been a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights since 1950, Brexit may have a chilling effect on human rights and blunt some authorities’ willingness to fully adhere to the European Court of Human Rights jurisdiction in the name of sovereignty. This could result in a shift of burden from the state to act responsibly to the claimant to prove violation of the Convention. Furthermore, the Convention can be denounced by the United Kingdom in a similar way as her withdrawal from the European Union.
Brexit was never about leaving the EU and losing all the concomitant economic, social and cultural benefits; it was all about a power grab by some totally unscrupulous people. We will be paying the price for years to come.