Don't mention the BREXIT!


No subject has caused more excitement recently than the so-called "Brexit" - the proposed exit of Britain from the European Union. With apologies to John Cleese for the title of this essay, I will attempt to provide a quick explanation of the underlying issues behind this occurrence which I believe to be really very simple.....

The first point to note is that, contrary to what most people think, Britain is not actually leaving Europe. The last time I looked it was still exactly where it has always been, in the sea opposite to France. So what's all the fuss about? Britain is not planning to up-anchor and sail away into the Atlantic Ocean. This, I think, is the primary fact which most people fail to understand. There's another important aspect and here's where it gets a little confusing. British people always refer to their homeland as Britain and every other neighbouring country as Europe. So when Brits say they are visiting Europe for a holiday, it means that they still think of Europe as a foreign country even though they are supposed to be part of it.

I lived in Europe for many years before and after the entry of Britain into the original European Economic Community (EEC) which has since morphed into the European Union (EU). In fact, I also worked in Brussels for a while, close to the original European HQ where I had contacts, so I do know something about the early workings of the organisation. One might ask, what is the purpose of this European Club and why would anyone want to join it? To be honest, I have no idea but I can hazard a good guess. If in doubt, follow the money trail! It's a safe bet that some people, somewhere will be benefiting greatly from this and most likely it won't be you or I.

So, what exactly is the EU? A good comparison would be if you or I were to join a business club for the purposes of networking and socialising. Let's say there are around thirty members, much like the approximately thirty different countries of Europe. Things might be fine for a while until it gets bigger and one day an executive committee is appointed to oversee the club. The only problem is that this committee is not formed by club members, it's a group of mysterious folks appointed through some complex spider's network and nobody is quite sure how they got there. To make matters worse, there is now not just one club manager but several different ones, each with their own agenda. They start making new rules, so thick and fast that you can't even keep up with them. Your club is no longer the EEC, it's now the EU and you have lost control of it.

What seemed like a good idea at the time (as the Brits always joke) has somehow lost its way. That's a real surprise! How could a club with so many vastly different members, all working together in perfect harmony, possibly go wrong? Well, anyone with a little foresight could probably have predicted that this would all unravel at some point in time. Let's consider the contrast between just two of the weightiest club members, for example, the Germans and the Brits. To the Germans this represents the ideal club. It has lots of rules and a constant stream of new ones. As we all know, Germans love to follow rules and the more complex the better. The Brits, on the other hand, are exactly the opposite. They deplore rules and the more rules, the less likely they are to follow them - especially when they are made by someone else.

So there we have just one ingredient of the pending recipe for disaster. If we multiply this by about thirty (for each different member) then all that's needed is someone to come along and light the fuse. Enter the British prime minister and his master plan. It is always said that one should never ask a question unless one already knows the answer. Well, the British people were asked whether they wanted to remain members of this super club and they were supposed to say, yes. Politicians should know better. Every parent knows what will happen when they tell their kids what to do. It should, therefore, have been no surprise when the British people said, no, which meant, uh, oh, the master plan was literally out of the window!

In the years ahead we will be subjected to zillions of articles - from experts, of course - on why it's very important for any country to be, or not be a member of this special club. However, now that you appreciate the basic underlying issues, you'll be able to save your valuable reading time and focus on more important things - like inventing new rules for your favourite club!