The publication of the European Commission’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement represents the complete failure of the EU and the UK to protect the rights of citizens. EU citizens in the UK and British nationals living in the EU have been on tenterhooks for nearly two years, not knowing how, precisely, the result of the fateful referendum will impact their rights, livelihoods and lives post-Brexit.
I am writing today in a state of sheer anger and desperation. I, along with many other people in my situation – the famous bargaining chips caught up in the crossfire of political rhetoric, unable to plan our futures – am beyond disillusioned.
An EU affairs specialist, I lived and worked in Brussels for 10 years. Having worked in the European Parliament and then closely with the EU institutions as a policy advisor to health NGOs, I fought tirelessly to promote the EU, its principles and the value of engaging with EU decision-making bodies to promote and protect the rights and health of EU citizens.
Today, however, I am forced to face up to a very sorry reality – that in this trying time, EU values and principles have become expendable, along with the rights of citizens who are being used as pawns in the negotiations.
Justice, solidarity, non-discrimination – values that are integral to the functioning of the European Union – have been totally absent from the EU’s treatment of the issue of citizens’ rights. Not only is this negligence going to have a devastating impact on my and many others’ rights post-Brexit, it also underlines a serious and debilitating deficiency of the EU to uphold the principles on which it is founded.
It is deeply unethical to promise that Britons will retain their current rights post-Brexit and then to backtrack to a proposal that strips them of their EU citizenship rights, leaving them landlocked in their host state with no possibility to subsequently live and work in other Member States. And yet this is what the EU has done.
According to the EU’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement published this week, I am set to lose my rights to live and work across the European Union. Due to the fact that I took advantage, early last year, of my right to free movement to take on a new role in a healthcare organisation based in France – a job that I subsequently lost due to internal reorganisation – I shall be landlocked in France, the only means of regaining my EU citizenship rights being to remain in the country until 2021 and apply for French citizenship. However, obtaining French nationality depends on a stable income, which, through no fault of my own, I no longer have.
Having gained a Masters degree in European Studies, having lived, studied and worked in Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium and France and perfected both French and Italian and dabbled in Czech and German, I consider myself a dedicated European. This is why I am so deeply disappointed by the current proposal, which punishes those Britons who, like me, believe in the value of living in and exploring different nations, in the cross-fertilisation of knowledge and expertise between countries and who relish the richness and diversity of languages and cultures that make the EU so unique in the world.
I believe that the punishment that I and many Britons like me are set to be subjected to sets a very dangerous precedent for the EU. It will no longer be able to claim that it fosters equality, freedom of movement and respect for human rights. Only if full EU citizenship rights are retained for those Britons who have exercised EU Treaty rights will it demonstrate its integrity by placing core EU principles above the political brinkmanship that we have seen on this most critical of issues to date.
Name and address supplied
Are we really implementing ‘the will of the people’?
I have professional experience in the process of conducting effective contractual negotiations. So I am deeply concerned about the way in which the negotiations with the EU are being conducted.
In the business of negotiation, the UK is making almost every known mistake possible. These include a lack of clear vision, aims, objectives and outcomes, laying red lines and non-negotiables too early in the process, thus holding yourself hostage. Along with all of that, there has been a failure to reconcile vested interests and we have imposed unrealistic timelines in the context of these strategic and complex negotiations. There is a complete failure to fully appreciate the motives and drivers of the other side.
We seem to lack skilled, competent and experienced negotiators, all striving for the same outcome. We have allowed the other side to take control of the negotiations by setting the agenda and the schedule of events.
We must all hope that somehow everything will come right in the end and our team will be able overcome the obstacles it seems to have put it is own way to go on and achieve a sustainable outcome.
If the Government is really respecting the referendum vote and the “will of the people”, then it should be a soft Brexit because the result was only just marginally over the 50 per cent mark.
This would respect both sides and be fair to both Leavers and Remainers.
What we seem to have is a “first past the post” view that because one side won, everybody has to follow their insane wishes with a hard Brexit, which would only have been justified if the result was, say, 75 per cent or more in favour of leaving.
Theresa May is weak, incompetent and has betrayed not only half the country but herself too. We all know that if the public were armed with the true facts, the result would have been more like 60 per cent in favour of remaining.
John Major is right and this will cause untold misery and resentment for years to come without another say once the final deal is known.
Cameron and May will always be remembered for causing this monumental disaster.
There is a solution to the Irish problem
The Irish border issue represents in a nutshell the case for an Irish Sea fixed link to fully interconnect the United Kingdom.
A fixed link would enhance the United Kingdom as a union of British and Northern Irish peoples in political, economic and social terms. Internal UK trade would be enhanced and Belfast would emerge as a credible transatlantic port for UK as a whole.
A worthwhile by-product of a fixed link would be to necessitate the reopening of the Dumfries-Stranraer line to facilitate freight and passenger trains from Belfast to London – and continental Europe via the Channel Tunnel.
Politicians of principle
I say this with full confidence: if Sir John Major was at the helm post-referendum, we would not be in such a lamentable mess.
During his tenure at No 10, he showed us clearly his virtues of decency, integrity and above all else common sense.
We are all too well aware that his leadership was blighted by the antics of the “ultras“ on the right of the party who to this day, over 20 years later, are still oblivious to the untold damage which was caused and is still being caused by them to the UK.
His intervention is to be applauded loudly; his points are, as always, totally accurate and are emphasising the ludicrous nature of red lines, grandiose statements and more that are then abandoned, diluted or given a new name for the next laughable instalment.
Let us just hope that at least some people listen to Sir John and voice their changed views, and sanity prevails before it is too late.
People seem to believe that Jeremy Corbyn has had a Damascene moment and softened his views on the EU. He has not. One of his endearing qualities is his unwavering adhesion to his principles. He regards the EU and all its components as tools of the capitalist imperialists for oppression of the masses. This is not going to change: he is more like Margaret Thatcher (“the lady is not for turning”) than St Paul on the road to Damascus.
Some strikes are counterproductive
When employees go on strike, their aim is to hurt their employers sufficiently that they will agree to enter negotiations.
When teachers and lecturers go on strike, they only hurt their students and hurt their employer not one jot.
Same applies to doctors and nurses.
Name and address supplied
Coping with the Beast from the East
In this cold weather, don’t forget to feed the birds! And a bowl of clean water would be nice too.
In response to Penny Little’s letter on the use of weather terms that get her grumpy: I am afraid she will have to live with “bubbling up” because that is an accurate description of how many clouds are formed. Heating of the ground on sunny days causes a localised invisible bubble of hot moist air to rise up. When this hits the condensation layer the clouds form, giving them their characteristic flat bases.
Dubbed the Beast from the East
It must be at least
As cold as it was this time last year.
The schools are all closed and the lorries are parked
In the motorways where they will sit until dark
And the papers are saying it will last one more week
While the EU continues to struggle to seek
An answer to Ms May’s fit of pique
Over borders that are now simply covered in snow
And the migrants in Calais have nowhere to go
And the gendarmes are spraying tear gas on their bedding
But everythings fine ’cos the Spice Girls are shedding
Their quarrels so they can sing at Prince Harry’s wedding.