Gill is in a major flap this week about the upcoming Brexit vote in the UK. As she should be. The vote is of vital importance for the small island nation. Indeed, this may be the first election in which she has voted where so much is at stake. When she was in Canada and voted, it was often a choice between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Canada’s elections are relatively tame and low key — certainly when put beside the U.S. voting frenzy. And really, will it change the world much if we choose Candidate A or Candidate B? No. Few people notice what Canada’s doing or not doing.
With our new ‘sunny ways’ prime minister, that has changed considerably. When a cab driver in Australia knows all about our new guy, it says something…I’m just not quite sure what. That he’s cute or has a good haircut? Although I didn’t vote for Justin, I was prepared to give him a chance. To date, I’ve not been overly impressed. He has waffled on many issues, refused to make decisions on others, and obfuscated on still others. And really, does door-to-door mail delivery seem a priority to anybody? The fact that we are number two in the world as far as arms sales to nations with massive human rights violations should be of more crucial interest. There’s time for our fearless leader but I’m not as optimistic as I once was.
The idea of one country (or part of a country) breaking away from another (or others) is not new. Gill probably doesn’t remember the constant threats of Quebec to’ ‘leave’ Canada and join, oh, I don’t know, France or the U.S., or some other country that might give them a better deal. Ask the rest of Canada, however, and you get the feeling that Quebec has been sucking us dry for decades. Quebec has, somewhat like Britain, received favored status from the federal government, special deals that no other provinces have, and still they complained about their raw deal.
And who can forget the revolt in the western provinces (a feeling still alive and well) when they threatened to leave Canada (and especially the haughty Easterners –Ontarians– who would be left ‘to freeze in the dark’)? So everybody has grievances. The western provinces could likely have made it on their own since they had all the oil. But Britain is no Alberta, B.C. or even Saskatchewan. Without those provinces, Canada would have been in bad shape…not much to eat and no oil to heat their houses in our cold, miserable winters. They had bargaining chips — big time!
But the UK? If it leaves the EU (after having enjoyed special status and ‘special deals’), it’s pretty much screwed. It has its financial institutions (great for offshore accounts for the rich and money laundering purposes), but beyond that, what? They don’t grow anything to speak of. They don’t manufacture much. They have a huge healthcare system to support and massive numbers of welfare recipients to look after. How are they going to do that if they have to go back to ‘start’ and re-negotiate all their trade deals? Never mind that such negotiations will take years. None of the EU countries will want to deal with them and they certainly won’t want to be gentle in those negotiations. This will NOT be a case of ‘going softly into the night’.
The thing I find most disturbing is, as Gill says, that the experts in finance (Bank of England and IMF), governments (including the U.S.) and business have said that leaving the EU is a bad idea. My inclination would be to believe them. Besides, if the UK leaves the EU, Scotland would likely separate from the UK (taking with it the oil, lovely salmon and whiskey) and before long, there goes England– standing alone and exposed or up shit creek without the well-known paddle.
Gill truly does ‘have a dog in this fight’ since she can vote for the first time in Britain and the vote could determine her future to remain there. As much as she wants to return to London in the near future, Scotland is looking good if things take a turn… that’s if the anti-immigrant faction doesn’t revoke her status and begin deportation proceedings. If nothing else, the turmoil keeps my daughter on her toes, with her bags packed,options open, and one foot out the door of her adopted island home.
My thoughts will be with her and the rest of the UK this week. I hope they vote to remain (and, now that Crazy D and L’il Sis have finally vacated my house, my couches are too old and feeble to host Gill again if she gets thrown off the island!) Please,people, save my couches!