OUTing

The Brits have spoken in favour of outing their country from the EU.

Speculation is rife about what will happen next in the UK, but what we know is that David Cameron intends to lead the country for 3 months. No “precise timetable” is needed, and “a negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister” he says.

The EU leaders are picturing photos on the tabloids, of David Cameron at the beach, while they struggle with holding other EU populations from following the United Kingdom. Talk is on about how David will leave Britain’s next Prime Minister to face Scotland and Northern Ireland, to face the Queen to communicate the possible disintegration of her kingdom, and to face the EU to negotiate the withdrawal.

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Cameron – pictured on the beach at Polzeath, Cornwall, during his family holiday. — Source: APEX 22/08/2013

But the EU must wait for the UK to officially pronounce its intention to withdraw – there is no obligation on when, and there may be other referenda and elections in the interim. Then, there are two years allowed for the negotiations to take place.

Merkel has asked for the process not to “take forever”. The leaders of the founding member states have issued a warning that they want to tackle the matter urgently. But the reality is that Europe treated the whole situation as a joke (it is enough to recall that Germany’s awakening to the reality that the Brits will vote to leave, just 12 days before the referendum, meant that Der Spiegel’s cover carried the English title “Please Don’t Go”, and was sold in Britain for below half price!!)

spiegel

EU leaders are again getting derailed.The UK should be allowed to face its own fate at home, and the EU’s focus must be on safeguarding the union.

If the EU leaders wanted the UK to hurry up, they had the opportunity when they struck the February deal with Cameron. Then they could have made it conditional that the UK’s vote would be final, and that a win for the “leave” campaign would in itself be an invocation of Article 50. Lesson learnt. And back to the point.

I am sorry for the many British people who voted to remain and now must go with the rest. They are European Union citizens today and will be stripped of their rights. The rights that many seem to not understand. And a clear failure of the EU’s commitment to reach out to people and explain how the EU matters to them on bread and butter issues. As well as how it has mattered in the bigger picture: single market and peace.

Many British young people have travelled and lived abroad and this may be part of the reason why 62% of the 25-34 year olds and 52% of 35-44 year olds voted to remain. But 60% of Britain is over 40 years old, and many remember the UK before it joined the EU. They have a right to look back sentimentally to the UK they remember, or the one described by their parents. The EU belongs also to these people and their parallels across the whole of Europe.

59 Scottish MPs in Westminister and the 18 from Northern Ireland may cast their vote in favour of the UK staying and, along with Labour, stop the UK from leaving. That will in itself show British people the power of their own parliaments, but may also reinforce the point that politicians are blinded by the EU and do not understand their people’s issues. What matters now is an honest closure, involving the acceptance of a democratic process and the right of the people to be governed by the leaders they choose.

“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” (Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights )

Maybe, in 30 years time, the Remainers will be telling their children a story of a David who killed Goliath (or almost did) with a boomerang that had gone back to get him. Only that Goliath was just a young, ambitious union of European Union leaders, overtaken by the magnitude of current events, and who had not seen the wood for the trees.

The EU’s institutions are designed to take criticism in their fold. Anti-establishment politicians have taken 20-30% of the seats allocated to France, the UK and Italy in the European Parliament. But who is taking care of the Union, while EU leaders battle with the oil crisis, peace in neighbouring countries, terrorism, immigration, farmers blocking the roads because of EU subsidies and French taxis battling the new shared economy?

While the EU gets always more labelled as a cover for power-hungry Eurocrats in Brussels, two main cities in Italy have elected a mayor from within Movimento 5 Stelle. M5S is part of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group, as is also Nigel Farage’s UKIP. Then there is Marine Le Pen’s FN in France amongst others. These parties stand for the promise of big change. And the many Europeans who feel badly hit by the various crises and failed political promises, will be ever more inclined towards the eccentric, the hardliners, and the fundamentalists.

There is an immediate expectation that the EU’s institutions stop to meddle with what can be decided in the Member States, and to communicate what it has struck off its list to focus instead on European issues. There is a need to prioritise political measures that lead to a peaceful co-existence within a challenged single economy:

  • showing an understanding of the concerns people have about asylum seekers, and (i) clarifying how the EU is tackling this problem at source, and (ii) applying interim measures to sustain the badly impacted parts of Europe;
  • a mix of solidarity and good governance in the Eurozone (rather than insisting on austerity, almost as a form of punishment); and
  • favouring any measure that immediately grows the need for many jobs in Europe (not just the equally needed long term policy of growth for jobs).

The EU can stop a mass outing if it takes the UK’s withdrawal in its stride; and is seen to care, learn from it and focus on solutions for priority matters. As well as help stir a positive sentiment of change, that can be commonly understood and talked about as the healthy aftermath of Brexit.

European leaders – read 10 tips from McKinsey.

 

David Cameron’s beach photo: Source – APEX NEWS & PICTURES NEWS DESK: 01392 823144 PICTURE DESK: 01392 823145

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