WELL DONE to all those who marched yesterday – up to 100,000 people apparently. Lot’s of “Bollocks To Brexit” stickers everywhere but it was most certainly a “family affair” sort of day with young and old out in force – all chanting “WE DEMAND A PEOPLE’S VOTE” led by Sir Tony Robinson. Must have been a noisy day at Number 10 where there were boo’s and “shame on you” chants as everyone walked past. Gina Miller was there and said “together we must stand up, demand our voices are heard, demand a people’s vote so that future generations can hear us say we did our bit we stood up and shouted for a country that’s together, kinder, tolerant.

“This is not a time to be silent.”

Here are some of the pictures I took of the day:-

Boo’s as we walked past Downing Street:-

Shantideva, an 8th-century Indian Buddhist monk and scholar said that if there was a way to overcome the situation, then instead of feeling too much sadness, too much fear or too much anger, make an effort to change the situation. Face the facts and the reality and make an attempt to do something. So with that in mind, I feel the need to wade into the murky water and stick my oar in. Poke it about a bit. Change isn’t going to happen unless we do something significant. I can’t bear to watch the slow car crash any longer, so it’s time to step up and out. I have heard there’s going to be a Brexit demonstration on the 23rd June – I hope there is – no idea what it will be called but “Bollocks To Brexit” will do for now.

Here is my reasoning having looked at some recent facts and figures:-

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England says that he believes voting to leave the EU has cost Britain more then £200 million a week in lost growth. TWO HUNDRED MILLION A WEEK?? THAT WASN’T WHAT WE VOTED FOR.

Although we have (so far) avoided a second Great Depression since 2009, post-crisis productivity has flatlined and the last decade has seen Britain’s worst pay squeeze since the 19th century. According to some, today’s political upheavals, from Brexit to Trump to the Corbyn surge, is a direct result of what has happened since the 2008 crash, which caused irreparable damage to public trust in the establishment and its institutions. We therefore need to take a long hard look at where we are right now and reassess the implications of the current landscape before it’s too late.

Sadiq Khan has just announced the results of an analysis into the impact on the British economy, should we end up leaving the single market and the customs union with no transitional deal and they are not good. Every sector of the market will be negatively impacted and there is already evidence of a reduction of investment in our economy. He stated on the radio that he is “heartbroken” about the decision to leave the EU and I feel the same, so whilst a second referendum is not currently an option on the table, we do need to look carefully at where we are, given the lack of progress we are making and the changing facts. EVEN NIGEL FARAGE has suggested a second referendum!! Which is the first time I’ve ever agreed with anything he says – despite the fact that he thinks the number of votes will be far higher to leave next time. Boris Johnson thinks the same….bring it on I say.  If that’s what they think…what have they got to worry about?

Bollocks to Brexit sticker

Bollocks to Brexit sticker

It’s time the British public were invited to give their opinion again. The mood is turning and thankfully the ship has not yet sailed. If we apply pressure, argument and passion, then hopefully the government will listen. The opposition are in a strong position at the moment – Sadiq Khan has intimated that we should reconsider a second referendum if the public wants one and despite the fact that many people think we should simply “grit our teeth and get on with it”, I think that asking the public to vote again will resolve the situation once and for all.

Not everyone believes that we need to make a stand against such a radical decision about the future against the explicit wishes of the young, but there are enough of us that do. So an idea would be to get behind the suggested demonstration, proposed for the second anniversary of the referendum vote in June. By then, if it hasn’t happened already, we will certainly have a clearer picture of the situation. Whether Teresa May is still in power at that point remains to be seen, but right now, what we need is a grass roots uprising to question the decisions being made and to quite reasonably ask if we can re-assess the situation. Even Europe are offering us the opportunity to change our minds, saying that their hearts are open to a sea change if we want it. If we were buying a house we’d have reconsidered our offer by now, so it’s time to start taking some action – it’s not too late to change the outcome, despite what many people say. Since the vote, there have been huge changes in the world and when the world changes, people’s views very often change too. We have a new landscape. We have women standing up for their rights and the young all donning their Doctor Martin’s. I hope they’re ready to fight the good fight, despite the fact that most of us are losing will to live over the debate as very few of us are interested in the finer detail of European politics so it’s difficult to remain engaged. The polls are beginning to show a sharp increase in people having “misgivings” about it, despite thinking that nothing can be done as we are too far gone. Our good old British attitude is that “we made our bed, so we had better sleep in it” . However, maybe that is not the answer and things can still change when we are collectively allowed to re-look at the facts to see if there is another way to move forward.

Of course, we are a long way down the line (with not much sorted) and many people would find it even more unsettling to change track again, BUT THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT DECISION. NO OTHER DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY WOULD EXPECT TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH A DECISION OF THIS MAGNITUDE BASED ON SUCH A SMALL PERCENTAGE. But who in the government is a voice for the 48% who don’t want Brexit to happen at all?

WHAT: A “Bollocks To Brexit” demonstration

WHEN: 23rd June 2018

WHERE: The march begins in Pall Mall at noon and ends at Parliament Square. Fifty coaches will bring people from all over the country to attend.

WHO: Everyone who is concerned about the decision – especially our young people

WHY: It’s complicated…see below for some thoughts on the matter but it’s not yet a done deal. Article 50 is not irrevocable – it can be reversed unilaterally in the UK

The 23rd June 2018 will mark the 2nd anniversary of the referendum and is an ideal chance to make our unhappiness known on a national scale. There’s no Glastonbury this year so we should all go on a massive “Bollocks To Brexit” demonstration instead.

The only thing to predict is unpredictability for 2018 despite what anyone says, because nobody knows the answers. The biggest risk for Britain this year is Brexit – the economy is in a “calm before the storm” scenario and if we don’t get a transitional period agreed after we formerly leave the EU, we will have no deal. Negotiations are moving incredibly slowly, not helped by the massive woefully misjudged delay that Teresa May caused by deciding to call another election. The government are making a spectacular mess of the negotiations and humiliating themselves in the process by all the internal arguments and back stabbing.

THE BACKGROUND

On June 23rd 2016, 16.1m people voted against Brexit – a number greater than has ever voted for a winning party in a general election before. 52% voted to leave against 48% voting to stay – an incredibly close result with the difference of just 650,000 people determining where we are now. That number only represented 37% of the total voting population of Britain.

The elderly niche who voted for Brexit predominantly are declining and therefore demographics are shifting. By all accounts the Baby Boomers have had all the meat. Free university education, easy access to jobs and affordable housing as well as the gold plated pension schemes owing to long term job security. Now there is austerity, student fees, no wage increases, expensive rent (London now has the highest rents in Europe) and now Brexit to top it all off. The millennials need to take a stand and not let this continue – is it fair to allow the older generation to claim the vote on a future we won’t ultimately be part of?

More than 70% of the 18-24 year olds voted to remain in the EU and thus far Teresa May has made no attempt whatsoever to reach out to them.

62% of 25-34 year olds voted to remain in the EU and thus far Teresa May has made no attempt whatsoever to reach out to them.

52% of 35-44 year olds voted to remain in the EU and thus far Teresa May has made no attempt whatsoever to reach out to them.

It is not what the young have chosen and as Sir Nick Clegg points out in his “How To Stop Brexit” book, there is no example anywhere in the world of a mature democracy taking such an abrupt and radical decision about it’s own future against the explicit wishes of the young.

David Cameron tiptoed away and left the sinking shit (intentional typo) to make money elsewhere. Farage did the same and is now “skint and single” (like the UK).

Right now, Brexit does not mean Brexit. It means nothing and nobody knows the answers.

2017 was a terrible year for governmental instabilities globally, but we can learn from it in order to make the relevant changes required to move on. We have to confront the racism and sexism we have been trying to deny and start having a wider conversation about our nation’s history. Women are starting to mobilise, as are the young. Our country is deeply divided between the young and old, the rich and the poor and we have to find ways to improve this.

Teresa May has issued paranoid warnings of EU plots and triggered Article 50 as well as significantly weakening her position by misjudging the public mood and wasting many more months of precious negotiation time which is frankly inexcusable. Her government is woefully unprepared for the talks – she can’t control her ministers, let alone unite the government. When public opinion was tested in June it didn’t work – what right does she now have to continue in the same way with no majority? She hasn’t listened at all.

THE LIES

Ultimately we didn’t know what we were voting for and surely it is a denial of democracy if we were sold on a pack of lies and irresponsible if the government is not going to allow the people to have another say, now they know more of the facts.

“We send the EU £350m every week. Let’s fund the NHS instead”. Surely if you make a statement like that and it turns out that you’ve misled at best, blatantly lied at worst, then you should be held to account? More than a year on, have the NHS received any of that money? When the NHS is on it’s knees. Will they see any of it? Even with Johnson suggesting that this figure was “a gross underestimate” he has been accused of having “no shame” by Sir Keir Starmer. Johnson has conceded that the leave campaign had used a gross figure, but he said about half of the total eventually saved could be redirected to fund public services. Even half is unlikely owing to the bill we are having to pay to get out of the EU. Because of the vote, the NHS are getting even less and additionally doctor’s and nurses are already starting to leave the building. Just a few days ago a leading NHS hospital had to send a memo to staff saying cancer treatment will have to be delayed due to a 40% reduction in trained cancer staff. The number of EU nurses leaving has trebled since 2012-13 to nearly 4,000 last year which means the NHS is literally “haemorrhaging” nurses figures reveal.

They were going to take control of borders. Instead it seems they might have to introduce a new border that they don’t yet know how to control. Tighter controls at borders? Looks like this isn’t going to happen now and it’s quite possible there won’t be any control monitoring people arriving across the new land border with the EU in Ireland. Nobody has come up with a way to avoid a hard border in Ireland once UK leaves.

THE CONCERNS

There is currently huge instability across the whole of Europe as the political fallout of the EU’s migration crisis and Brexit rages.

The UK is set to leave the EU on the 29th March 2019 and in the meantime negotiations continue with plenty of unresolved details in the joint EU-UK report that need to be turned into a formal withdrawal agreement.

The clock is ticking and without a deal, even the short term damage could be severe. Businesses will be stranded outside the single market. They require legal certainty well before next year because they need to make urgent decisions about locations and operations. They have to move staff and accommodation and schools have to be found for September of this year so realistically they really need to know by the first quarter of this year because they need at least a year to plan ahead. Companies are already moving staff and operations to the continent – Easyjet, banks, car manufacturers – in February last year a study by KPMG showed that 1 in 3 manufacturing firms plan to shift their operations outside the UK and as prices go up and the cost of living increases this will only continue. The Daily Telegraph recently reported that France are offering language lessons to London bankers and their families. Paris is also planning to invest in bilingual schools for children and set up an English hotline to help them navigate the French education system. The French government also plans to temporarily exempt foreign executives from paying into state pension schemes. Paris expects to receive about 2,500 UK-based executives in the coming months. Lastly, Paris will create 1,000 places in multilingual schools next September and will set up three new international lycées. So it’s win win for them right now!

Jeremy Corbyn has so far let the young people down by not standing up for those who voted for him in the last election. He had better be building up to it, but the danger is that because he is a long term Eurosceptic and seems to have taken a vow of silence, he might not push for a second referendum.

THE REALITY

Despite a lot of the media reporting a positive spin, the UK has had the slowest growth of all 27 EU countries recently, having gone from the fastest growing economy in the G7 in 2016 to the joint slowest with Italy in the first quarter of 2017. The World Economic Outlook report, published in October 2017 included upward revisions to growth forecasts for the Euro area, Japan, emerging Asia and Russia, but downgraded their revisions for the UK from 1.8% in 2016 to 1.5% in 2018 given that activity has slowed more than anticipated in the first half of 2017.

There has also been the first rise for five years in retailers going bust as falling consumer confidence and rising costs take their toll on businesses – with large retailers being amongst the worst hit. Look what’s just happened to Carillion.

The full impact clearly won’t be felt until 2019/20 once trade agreements and other policies have been set in stone. This uncertainty is also driving the IMF’s projected decrease in growth.

Currency markets see the UK as less significant for growth potential now that the pound is worth 15% less against the Euro and dollar compared to the summer of 2015, the rate of inflation is rising so the pound is worth less in the pocket and therefore costs are rising; energy, clothes, food, holidays AND WINE and there is no corresponding increase in wages. This makes it all the more important for millennials to voice their discontent. It is their future we are risking here.

Britain has enjoyed a special status within the EU thus far, which we should try to hold to. The migrant crisis was all over the news at the time of voting and a key issue for everyone – why didn’t we come up with a collective European humanitarian solution instead of individual countries shutting down their borders and not helping those who were inundated? In the meantime, the EU economy is growing again, considerably faster than the UK’s economy. This is creating massive uncertainty for business and families as the Eurozone is growing twice as fast as the UK economy.

We are struggling with a shortage of EU workers as they stay away – not only because of the impact of the drop in the pound, but also because of the perception that the UK is no longer as open to foreigners as it used to be. Meanwhile, the government does not have time to focus on crucial national issues.

Terrorism, trade and climate change do not respect borders and we can’t do it on our own – We are essentially a small egg in an omelette and the whole is clearly greater than the sum of the parts – we surely will be stronger together to meet the challenges, rather than retreat into some tragic nostalgia for the green and pleasant land.

China and India want to do business with a major bloc, not an isolated nation and we are losing control fast as Japan signs one of the largest trade deals ever with the EU and there is a tangible coldness on the continent that we just don’t need.

Essentially the vote was driven by wealthy individuals with personal motives which skewed the national debate by filling the papers up with pro leave messages and whilst there are many who voted to leave for very good reason, the focus on the fact that the Conservatives have absorbed UKIP and the far right views, is not surely how we want to be perceived as a nation. It is simply not who we are.

British businesses will face tariffs and customs officials will be overwhelmed at ports if we end up with no deal causing chaos. Airline bosses have said that flights between Britain and Europe could be threatened. Sterling could slump again, causing another spike in inflation. Business investment will continue to shrink as firms worry about the future. Foreign direct investment will also drop as banks move employees to Frankfurt and car manufacturers relocate.

According to Visa, consumer spending continued to drop in December 2017 as rising inflation and stagnating wages put household budgets under further pressure. Economists expect this trend to continue with consumers being uncertain about the domestic economy and Brexit – so to say that “Remain voters are wrong as Project Fear projections of a recession have not come true” as Larry Elliot said in The Guardian recently is premature and inaccurate.

Glastonbury - Bollox to Brexit flag

Glastonbury – Bollox to Brexit flag

THE SOLUTION

Despite Jean-Claude Juncker telling everyone “not to believe” politicians such as Tony Blair and Nick Clegg who are campaigning for a second referendum, there is still hope. The EU must make some significant changes in order to stop it falling apart, but this moment is the catalyst for change…just not extreme change.

Nick Clegg suggests a joint EU-UK convention to be formed by those not only in politics but in business too – who understand the global implications far better – tasked with repositioning Britain within the EU, whilst remaining the largest EU country outside the Eurozone. Finding a way to remain a member of the single market and customs union and an approach to freedom of movement that is largely our own design still makes sense. So that we can rebuild trust with Europe, because we ultimately have the same concerns and the same values.

Better together surely for a strong and stable Britain?

Thoughts welcome!

See you there!!

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  1. Are you saying that only policies approved of by ‘the young’ should be implemented? At what age are the rest of us disenfranchised? Using this argument, no one voted to become part of the European Union. The referendum in 1973 was to join the European Economic Community, not consent to an ever closer political and economic union.

    • Family Affairs on

      No, not at all….just that the outcome of such a momentous decision will be ultimately their problem. Not sure what you mean by the rest of us being “disenfranchised” though. I just don’t think referendum’s are the right way to make decisions that are so complicated that none of us understand the consequences or indeed the processes.

  2. Thank you for your reply. I really enjoy reading your blog – you write about such interesting topics!

  3. Family Affairs on

    Adding the post from my friend who wrote his blog post in response to mine…https://economicsabc.wordpress.com/2018/02/16/brexit-why-we-need-to-leave-the-eu/

  4. Family Affairs on

    and then another friend who responded to his via email, but trying to get the conversation going here!

    “do think he makes strong points, but they tend to fall apart when you realise that his main point is simply ‘Europe has failed’. The proof is not in the pudding: Europe has grown much more strongly than the UK since Brexit, and has proven itself extraordinarily resilient. It needs a lot of reforms, I agree, but no time to go into that right now”…..

  5. Paul ruddock on

    All a tad misleading … you say the NHS aren’t getting any of the £350 million a week? Erm,,well,,as of right now we’re still in the EU, and indeed paying for said membership, so no, of course the NHS aren’t benefitting, just the EU still. When you try to muddle and mislead like that, you throw doubt on everything else you say. And likewise with the impact of the ‘older’ vote… from what you’re saying, it’s only the younger vote that matters, and all that stuff about changing demographics, why not just be honest and say what you really mean ie you hope the older voters would hurry up and die. Personally I hope you do get your 2nd referendum, as really, it’ll be exactly the sme result again. Oh and, the difference was over a million, not 650k as your misleading post stated.

    • Family Affairs on

      Well, bring it on then…..not trying to be misleading, just saying it how I see it but feel that a 2nd ref would sort it all out as we would all be more clear. I just feel that we didn’t know what we were voting for – and still don’t so lets have another one to sort that out.

  6. Family Affairs on

    I STRONGLY object to your assertions that Brexit is all the fault of the older generation. That is outrageous!! I’m 72 years old and have been a passionate European all my adult life. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of my contemporaries who voted Leave. The rest of my friends/ex-colleagues/family are 100% Remain because we LIKE our multi-cultural country and our links with other nations.

    • Family Affairs on

      Thank you for your comment – I’m delighted you feel that way – perhaps therefore it’s just my mother and all her friends who voted for leave then so I seem to know a lot of the older generation who voted that way and I wasn’t so much suggesting that it was the fault of the older generation any more than it was the fault of the younger generation for not getting out and voting.

  7. I would ask any Remainer who wishes to stay shackled to the EU to look into the EU’s declared plans for the future – compulsory Euro for every EU nation state, conscription into the EU Army, more integration and new rules about migrant intake are being finalised about which countries must take their ‘quota’, the UK fishing waters would remain as it is (if we leave we regain our rights to our fishing area as per International law, we can also trade around the world more freely boosting the UK’s economy without interference or limitations from the EU, we can deport foreign criminals without the ECJ interfering and blocking the deportation.
    The EU is continuing the path towards ever closer integration, a central taxation system, the Superstate Agenda is in full swing – each country will lose its National Identity, Flag, Anthem, Traditions, Culture to be replaced with the EU’s Anthem, flag etc.Since 1973 we have seen our exports slow down yet the fastest growing markets are all outside the EU – these are the countries we should be talking to, trading with – but we can’tas the EU won’t let us!

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