Project fear continues !

There is a great deal of uncertainty being generated by people who should know better. The political situation in the UK is being unsettled by the irresponsible actions of several senior politicians.

Hilary Benn has provoked a leadership crisis in the Labour Party at the very moment the nation needs stability after the Referendum result. He has blatantly placed the Remain cause and his own position above party and country. He presents himself as Statesmanlike but is actually acting in the most despicably partisan fashion, just when the country needs reassurance.

Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland continues to campaign for Remain and for an Independent Scotland. She completely disregards the results of the September 2014 Referendum on Independence and last week’s Brexit Referendum. It is pure opportunism on her part to try to put Scottish independence back on the agenda.  The question in last week’s Referendum was “Should the UNITED KINGDOM remain or leave – NOT should Scotland remain or leave the EU. Scotland voted as a constituent member of the United Kingdom; this was not a vote on Scottish independence, nor on Scotland’s membership of the EU. And when the Scots voted in 2014 on the specific issue they knew full well that Brexit was a possibility for the UK.

She talks as if Scotland were a country occupied by the English with every right to ignore what is happening in our country – the United Kingdom. Scotland is legally, constitutionally and democratically a constituent nation within the United Kingdom. As a minister in a junior administration within the United Kingdom, Sturgeon has a responsibility to the United Kingdom but she chooses instead to play partisan politics with a very serious situation.

She deliberately ignores her wider responsibility and the actual constitutional arrangements.

The actions of these two politicians are symptomatic of the underlying problem: the preset mindset of the political class in their bubble versus the actual lives, interests and concerns of ordinary people.

I say this to explain the politics of the moment and the uncertainty it is generating.

I have explained in these pages what the position of expats actually  is. The reassurance I have sought to give is well founded, and I will continue to give that reassurance as one who analyses politics and endeavours to delineate the main contours and features of the political landscape.

There continue to be the most outrageous attempts to frighten people about the consequences of Brexit. Jean Claude Juncker is among the worst –  a Czech minister has even called for his resignation. Juncker continues to make the most appalling statements contrary to the facts. And the leader of the Spain’s largest party has repeated nonsense about a threat to pensions and healthcare for Brits in Spain.

Such assertions are playing politics with people’s fundamental welfare. They are despicable. What British expats need to realise is that such assertions are skewed and slanted takes on the overall picture; such comments disregard the legal, political and economic realities. Spain needs the economic plus British expats bring. End Of !

The EU maintains that it is an institution safeguarding the rights of Europeans. Why should they, then, take action against the rights of Europeans living in each others countries ? Assertions to the contrary – and they have been made – simply corroborate the concerns that many have about the EU oligarchy.

There are over 2 million EU citizens living in the UK. The UK will not attack their rights of residency, social security or health. Our governments do not act like that. And they cannot with so many British expats in the EU. Only today, Boris Johnson has stated that EU citizens in Britain need have no fears for their future. Being the man most likely to move into the Prime Ministerial hotseat, he knows full well the need to take a responsible line at this critical juncture.

Take the UK and France. There are twice as many French living in the UK as Brits living in France. The French government will do nothing to harm their interests, nor will the French government want to lose the economic benefits so many retired Brits bring to France. The French government has, for example, reiterated its commitment to the Le Touquet bi-lateral border Treaty which enables British border controls at Calais, and vice versa.  Talk from senior French and British politicians on that score during the Referendum campaign was pure politicking ..

The media in the UK and on the continent plays a key role in fuelling all this nonsense. Reports of Brits in EU countries feeling they have to take citizenship there to protect their interests, or EU citizens applying for British nationality is nonsense. Both the legal and the economic realities  determine the case. EU citizens cannot have their existing rights taken from them retrospectively at some future date. That means our rights continue, even after all the Brexit arrangements are finalised and in place. The only difference I can envisage as an expat living  in France is to have a carte de sejour again. Big Deal !

Do stop and remember that there is always a broader context which gives us the real picture.

Don’t allow the partisan comments of politicians with a propaganda agenda of their own to disquiet you.

If the situation deteriorates, it will be because those who do not want to accept the Referendum result are trying to unsettle things and create the climate they prophesied on campaign.

The £ has not fallen through the floor and there is no real reason for it to do so. Except in the perceptions of those who want to think we cannot live without the EU …

As one commentator put it today, markets and currencies fluctuate all the time. It is normal. Falls in the value of the £ and shares are merely readjustments. And when commentators talk about it, they need to put such “falls” [too often described in apocalyptic language] into their context over time.

A temporary upset was inevitable – especially as a Remain result was widely diffused in the media and polls [how do they manage to get it so wrong? Or do they ?].

But temporary is not permanent. And as the Chancellor said this morning [remember he is no longer on campaign but having to be responsible again] the British economy is fundamentally strong; all necessary measures are in place at the Bank of England; we are far better placed than in 2008 !

Frankly, Brexit is not remotely on a par with the world crisis of 2008, and don’t let any one try to persuade you that it is.

Ray Catlin

OVERVIEW

Welcome to Expat for Brexit – a message to British expats in EU countries that BREXIT is the right option for expats, for Britain and for a free democratic Europe.

British people already legally resident in the EU will retain their present rights and responsibilities.

There is no real threat to their property, rights of residence, pension or health arrangements.

Under the provisions of international law, existing rights cannot be removed – note, for example, the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.  This is confirmed by an advice Note from the authoritative House of Commons Library – the resource for British law makers.

It is also a legal principle in free countries that changes in the law do not apply retrospectively.

In this context we should note that all countries in the EU subscribe to the Rule of Law.

Apart from the legal obligations in play, the political pressures to maintain the rights of EU citizens resident in each other’s countries are overwhelming.

Take for example Britain and France. There are at least 370,000 French people  living and working in the UK – twice the number of Brits living in France. It is in neither country’s interests to destabilise populations at a time of massive migration into the EU area. Nor is it in either country’s economic interests to destabilise the status quo.

In fact the rights of British and French in each other’s country are not ultimately dependent on the EU. Several bi-lateral accords exist between Britain and France on key matters such as Taxation, Health provision, social security and border control. These agreements will continue, regardless of EU membership, and regardless of whatever threats are made during the Referendum campaign.

There is no reason whatsoever for such arrangements to be changed. Where arrangements are making use of an EU mechanism, they can easily be transferred into bi-lateral accords of the type that already exist. To suggest otherwise is to play callously with people’s ignorance.

But what of the general conditions in Europe apparently secured by the existence of the EU? Surely expat interests are as much concerned with general conditions as with particular personal concerns ?

Certainly the EU has pretensions to be the government of Europe, and has drawn to itself increasing powers and influence. Certainly it was founded back in 1956/7 with the express intent of assuring the peace of Europe by means of increasing economic and political convergence.

Let’s look at the facts.

International police co-operation was undertaken by Interpol long before the existence of the EU/ EEC. International co-operation regarding terrorism and threats to democratic countries are secured by other, extensive arrangements to share intelligence. The idea that countries are going to stop sharing with a UK outside the EU is complete nonsense, especially when the UK is a European leader in Intelligence.

The peace in Europe has not been secured by the EU. Other factors have secured the peace of Europe, especially the refusal of the French and Germans to contemplate war in Europe. NATO is actually the military mechanism for our physical security; and  nuclear weapons have been a deterrent, by assuring Mutually Assured Destruction.

In reality, the stability of Europe is now threatened by the very policies and mechanisms of the EU.

The migration crisis in Europe is due to the policy and mechanism of open borders, and the failure over many years to make proper provision to secure the external borders of Europe.

The economic crisis in Europe has been aggravated, if not caused, by the policy and mechanism of the Euro as a Single, one-size-fits-all currency. That Single Currency mechanism has brought terrible consequences in – for example – Greece where the economy, society and democracy have suffered severely.

Politically there is much about the EU to worry true democrats. EU directives and regulations over-ride national laws, the EU’s European Court of Justice upholds this pre-eminence and the EU Commission – the EU Civil Service – enforces it.

In fact these pre-eminent EU laws are initiated and framed by the bureaucrats of the EU Commission, behind closed doors, and often in co-operation with big business interests. They are designed to pursue the aim of a Single European State where entire countries are divided into Euro Regions, becoming mere counties in a new Super State.

Yet there is  another Europe wide forum for political co-operation. It is called the Council of Europe and has 47 members – the EU has 28. It is certainly allied to the EU and shares its aims, but it could easily provide a looser forum for co-operation given the political will.

The EU is a project to achieve complete European integration under one European Government. That project has been inspired by a Continental, and especially a French mentality and practice.

Such centralised, dirigiste, state oriented thinking and practice contrast radically with the British approach, culture, institutions and practice. In fact ours have been submitted to theirs.

Let me give you just one powerful and critical example which demonstrates the difference, the experience and the impact of the conflicting approaches.

The decision to make the Euro currency a Single currency displacing national currencies overnight was typically continental and very French. The UK pressed for a Common European Currency to circulate alongside national currencies.

We lost that one – and  with it the reality of a European Project.

But the British approach has proved to be right. The Single currency has imposed impossible constraints on lesser economies like Greece. The results we all know. Indeed another Greek ‘bailout’ is in prospect as I write.

If the British proposal had been adopted for a common currency, the Greek crisis, and indeed the Euro crisis would have been avoided.

With the British proposal,   national currencies reflecting the different national conditions would float against each other and against a unifying Euro currency.

No crisis.

In reality the EU is a project where the French and the Germans seek to dominate Europe. Britain has always been sidelined by them, and the record proves this.

From the Franco-German alliance of the Elysee Treaty 1963 and De Gaulle’s refusal to allow British entry to the Common Market in the 1960s; through the ERM crisis leading to Black Wednesday in 1992;  and on to the adoption of the Single Currency in the late 1990s – Britain’s unique and pertinent contribution to European harmony has been rejected.

If the EU were fundamentally about the Ideal it espouses, British influence would be recognised,  valued and incorporated.

It is not.

Ideals are seldom the reality behind any political project, whatever the professions may be.

Certainly not this one.

Ray Catlin read political history at University, voted for the Common Market in 1975, and has lived in France for several years. He observes both French and British current affairs via their respective national media. He believes a historical perspective is vital if we are to understand contemporary events.

In 2016 he votes for the UK to leave the EU.