A month to go until Brexit

With a month left to go until the United Kingdom is supposed to be leaving the European Union, I’m watching the deadline approach and wondering what will really happen.

However much I have written and discussed the topic elsewhere on the web, I’ve been quiet here since I exchanged my driving license and gained German citizenship.  In some ways, that status at the end of 2016 meant security, as I knew I could remain in Germany whatever the outcome of the leaving deal (or lack of one) turned out to be.  I have followed other British residents in Germany through the process, and have often answered questions about it.  And I have seen others left with the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen, and not being able to do so much about it as they do not meet the minimum requirements to apply for citizenship.

A view of the English Channel taken from Dover Castle in April 2014

As the deadline draws closer, I read ever more articles in the UK press about what could be the case after March 29th, or in the event of “no deal” what almost certainly will be the case.  Many of those things I discussed on social media before the referendum even took place.  I dealt with them after the result before Article 50 was even invoked.  It appears that the UK press are finally waking up, because finding out that UK driving licenses will need to be exchanged in future, if their holders move abroad, is nothing new.  It used to be the case anyway until 1996.  The re-introduction of roaming charges for UK mobile phone users (and unfortunately for EU residents when they visit the UK) is another example.  There is talk of charges for visa-free travel to the EU and international driving permits.

Also almost every day, I see comments on social media from “Brexiteers” or “Leavers” claiming it is all just scaremongering, “project fear”, and worth the cost so that they can have blue passports and “take back control” of things they never gave up in the first place.

I watch in despair as politicians show their ignorance of the way the EU works and the UK’s part in it, not knowing how important the Dover-Calais crossing is for trade, criticising the EU for not allowing the UK to keep MEPs in the European Parliament after the country leaves, claiming that leaving will allow the UK to control their own currency (I must have missed it joining the Euro!) and call for the UK to scrap the Schengen agreement, of which it has never even been part of.  It’s ironical watching elected MEPs critising the EU for being a collection of “unelected” bureaucrats, and when people who have actually worked in Brussels end up showing in London how little they understood of what goes on there, it’s maybe no surprise that people who do not follow politics so closely understand things even less.

What will really happen on March 29th?  Will there be a deal?  Or will I need an international driving permit to visit the UK this year?  Will the Brexiteers take the UK out of the EU come hell or high water?  Or will a lot more MPs wake up to the fact that they are damaging the country’s reputation, potentially beyond repair for a very long time.

The clock is running down fast…


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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