With Article 50, the formal step which begins the process for the UK to leave the EU, due to be triggered today, 29th March 2017 there was no way I could resist the purchase of ‘ Five on Brexit Island’ on my airport bookshop visit on Monday and nothing else I could discuss in my weekly blog.
As Theresa May signed the letter to trigger article 50, which will be delivered to the EU parliament at 12.30 BST she called for the country to ‘pull together now.’
There would appear little prospect of that, as yesterday the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of requesting a second referendum for Scottish Independence and feelings in Ireland would suggest that the Northern Ireland Government will be likely to follow suit. The circumstances are such that the UK parliament will have difficulty arguing that there has not been a significant change in circumstances.
Whilst the madness of holding a referendum based on a simple majority is clear to see, there has been little attempt by politicians to address the constitutional difficulties that the outcome of the June 2016 referendum has produced.
Surely it was reasonably foreseeable that significant border divisions might arise. In the final days before the Scottish referendum vote in 2014, the British Government introduced scare mongering tactics that Scotland would be thrown out of Europe, if Scotland left the UK, as it’s membership composite with the rest of the UK. A fear of losing a place in Europe was, I believe a factor in persuading many voters who might otherwise have favoured Scottish independence to stay in the union. After all Scotland has, as a sea faring nation always been a significant exporter of people.
Northern Ireland, a country, plagued by divisions for so long, was, after the successes of the peace process, unlikely to favour imposition of fresh borders of any kind with Ireland.
Since the UK joined the EU, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have been granted devolved parliaments. Surely, in these circumstances, the regionalised voting results produced by the June 2016 referendum cannot be ignored. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in Europe. England and Wales voted to leave. Two against two. Isn’t that a draw? Some constitutional experts certainly think so!
So where does that leave us?
Boris Johnsons words in the pro-EU article revealed in a new book by Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman “All Out War “ will surely come back to haunt us all.
“This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms,” “The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. “Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?” Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put in place plans for a second independence referendum if the UK leaves the single market Mr Johnson also warned that Brexit would cause an “economic shock” and could lead to the “break up” of the UK. He wrote: “There are some big questions that the “out” side need to answer. “Almost everyone expects there to be some sort of economic shock as a result of a Brexit. “How big would it be? I am sure that the doomsters are exaggerating the fallout – but are they completely wrong? And how can we know?”
But with no early resolution of the Brexit situation, where does that leaves Brits who have moved to France in good faith under the European charter of free movement. Nothing has changed, the politicians urge. And nothing has, yet. So is it time to get the French citizenship applications underway. Personally, I’m going to hold off for a little time yet, but then I’m Scottish and I don’t think France is going to be able to throw out Brits who came here in good faith. That is because France is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life 1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. 2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Surely everyone who came here in good faith has the right to remain. As the UK is still part of the EU and will be until 29 March 2019, surely everyone who choses to move permanently to France until that date should be entitled to avail themselves of the freedom of movement provisions. Can countries with devolved parliaments whose citizens have voted to remain in the European Union be forced against their will to leave. Surely this is against the fundamental rights which the European Convention on Human Rights was designed to protect.
Britain of course, intends to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights. I hope the situation is less complicated on Brexit Island! Next week I will look at the application process for visa’s and carte de sojourn.
Meantime I hope the situation for my old friends ‘The Famous Five’ on Kirren Island is clearer, Until this is all sorted out the only certainty is uncertainty and that isn’t good for anyone particularly the pound!