Brexit: Nightmare meets hangover!
The Brexit is here: it’s like waking up to a nightmare or with a huge hangover, and the cold that is making itself known across my airways doesn’t make me feel any better. Last night’s decision by Great Britain to leave Europe is a sad decision, and it’s left the country deeply divided. Politically, this is a huge nightmare, and another show of just how egotistical we’ve become in the wake of the 2008 economic meltdown. The argument, widely used by the leave side to close borders, to let “continental” Europe fence with the refugee crisis alone, is only one such tell tale sign. Only time will tell how this well affect the hundreds of thousands of Britons living in other EU/EES countries and how the Europeans on the Isles will be affected. I’m not even going to venture a guess as to what Scotland will do, being more than 60% for remaining in the UK, the only of the four “pretend-countries” to want to stay. What this will do to the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland is anyone’s best guess. Peace won’t be on the top three list if you ask me.
So it’s a very sad day for Europe, for the UK and the rest of the world. I’ve never been one to believe that we’re stronger alone. But what does this mean to me? As an author with strong ties to the British Isles? My publisher, my editor, several of my proof readers live and work in the UK. The first effect, sadly, is positive: with the Sterling falling like a stone, purchasing services from the UK will be cheaper for us, and I regret paying that last invoice as quickly as I did. Would’ve saved me a good 10%. Continuing to use the services from the UK will undoubtedly be cheaper for a while, as stock and foreign exchange markets try to figure out what to make of this.
The free and common market the UK now will be leaving will be replaced by something else, and while I personally don’t think (hope?) that the UK will be leaving much, there is still a risk of increased taxes (and higher prices) and even customs to be levied. No longer part of the common market (which includes financial assets), sending money to, and receiving money from the UK might become more complex. Will the UK impose taxes on my royalties in the future? We don’t know what the Brexit entails.
But what I fear is that purchasing books from the UK, my author copies, could become very expensive in the future. When I imported my books from the U.S. (using CreateSpace), the Swedish government added not only VAT of 6%, but also customs, and I remember some very gruesome invoices from my government. If this is the future with my current publisher (who’s been treated like a domestic one until today) that remains to be seen. There is of course a risk that whatever UK printing company was used in the past, that will be printed elsewhere in the EU in the future, to avoid for EU customers having to pay for expensive VAT and customs charges. That might be good for remaining EU countries, but bad for the UK industry. But for all intents and purposes, the post-Brexit UK will be no different than importing from India or Argentina from now on (well, at least after the divorce is finalized, and the dust has settled).
I dread future travel to the UK. For us it’s been ‘relatively’ easy in the past twenty something years. While never having joined Schengen, EU member state citizens have always had a “quick pass” into the UK. No paper work (I still remember that), no silly forms to be filled in, and being able to bypass the endless queues from third country citizens. I’ve seen those queues at terminal three at Heathrow. People waiting for hours on end (heck, even we had to sometimes wait 45 minutes in the morning, as all flights arrived at the same time…) America immigration will await us at Heathrow soon enough, and going to my author conventions in England could become a nightmare. I can’t even imagine how British seniors living in Spain must feel, not knowing what will become of them, or how long immigration queues to Ibiza or Mallorca will be for Brits in the future…
The UK leaving the EU is much bigger, and so much worse than we can possibly imagine, which is why it’s such a “bad” idea to hold referenda on these things. While people can’t fathom losing what they don’t even know they’re having, we can’t really foresee what the big changes will be like. Naturally, if you never leave your village in Cornwall or Yorkshire, not much might change. The devil, as always, lies in the details, the little things, that which we don’t necessarily think of. Over time, the people of the UK will realize just what they’re missing out on: goods will be more expensive due to different requirements in the UK and the EU (or they’ll just adopt EU rules without a say…), travel, studies abroad for their kids, and what not. But more importantly, we’re no longer one European voice, and that only helps those who wish us ill.
The really big thing for me is the fact that this is just another little step of divisiveness, egoism, the erroneous belief that you’re stronger on your own. That is a real recipe for disaster, because it’s just been proven wrong by history, again and again.
Hans M Hirschi
Proud European and Earth citizen