After a fantastic four week trip to visit family including our two year old grandson in New Zealand we are now home in the United Kingdom.
When we left the news was dominated by the whole issue of what is going to happen after 2300 hours on the 29 March this year.
For those readers who have been in a self induced coma for the past two years the date and time is when the United Kingdom once again – according to the advocates of the decision to leave the European Union – becomes Great Britain.
We as a nation will once again (according to the devoted Brexiteers) bestride the globe making and dominating world trade in a way that hasn’t been seen since the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.
So what does the Southern Hemisphere make of it all?
Well, I’ll come to that at the end of this blog.
The reality for the UK is that whether some like to admit it or not the decision to leave the European Union has already brought with it a cost estimated to be £40bn a year which regardless of where Brexit goes from here someone has to pay for.
The cost and damage is spread (unevenly) across society some being tangible such as jobs, employment, investment and economic and some less tangible impact namely on the United Kingdom’s international reputation, influence and recruitment of talent across the globe to come and work here.
Even while I’m writing this the saga continues with a vote today (14 Feb) on Theresa May’s latest attempt to get Parliament to agree with the Brexit Agreement she has negotiated with the European Union.
It appears that her vow to Parliament to secure “legally binding changes” to the withdrawal agreement that was rejected by MP’s has fallen on deaf EU ears and haven’t even been given serious consideration.
After all an agreement is an agreement – or at least you would think so, but this is a political minefield.
Add to that the confusion caused by the fractious fractions within the Conservative party with such as the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt saying that the exit date may have to be delayed if negotiations drag on whist the Trade Secretary Liam Fox insisting all negotiations will end on the 29th March when the UK leaves.
What it demonstrates is the very simple fact that the country isn’t ready to leave which means as businesses have continually (to apparently no avail) warned economic chaos is on the horizon.
So who is telling the truth or more to the point who are we to believe?
If there is nothing to cause concern then why has the City of London seen a steady and increasing acceleration of finance and jobs leaving the city as some of the biggest financial companies readjust their position in Europe.
It is reported that five of the largest banks have transferred over £500b of their balance sheet assets from London to Frankfurt to ensure they will meet EU guidelines which will allow them to continue providing services to the remaining 27 EU Countries.
It has to be said that fewer bankers than expected have currently transferred from London but business is business so moves are being made and outline plans put in place to transfer thousands of staff to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam and Madrid.
The impact on a declining value of the pound may well have benefited exporters but it has had a major impact on increasing national debt due to the additional costs of imported goods and services which in turn has boosted inflation.
The impact of which has been felt chiefly by the retail sector as consumer purchasing power and spending has fallen.
Perhaps even more damaging for the UK economy is that businesses have either cancelled or deferred investment until the uncertainty of what kind of Brexit agreement or non-agreement is achieved.
But at least Brexit will stop the mass immigration to the UK the xenophobic Brexiteers such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnston cry…
except of course from their position of being very wealthy white privileged men the fact that the fall in the net immigration of skills from the EU to the UK doesn’t affect or concern them.
They are not concerned that it has damaged the agriculture, construction and hospitality industries or even more essentially the National Health Service.
And as for bestriding the world as a resurgent economic and political force to be reckoned with… well tell that to Sony, Panasonic, Chubb and the other companies who have already moved their EU headquarters from the UK and those who have decided not to invest in this country.
So as I asked early, what do those in the Southern Hemisphere make of it all?
Well those I talked with in NZ think the Northern Hemisphere has taken leave of its senses …
(I’m being polite they really think we’ve all gone mad)
And if you need any more evidence of the absolute chaos around Brexit the latest parliamentary vote has just been announced in which Prime Minister Theresa May (who incidentally put down the motion to be voted on) has suffered another (the tenth of her tenure) Commons defeat with 303-258 (a majority of 45)rejecting the motion to endorse the governments negotiating strategy.
So there we have it .. the Prime Minister asked for Parliament to endorse her negotiating strategy… Parliament said no it wouldn’t.. and the reaction from the Prime Minister is….
The vote has no legal force and the Prime Minister has said she will not be changing her strategy or approach to negotiating with the EU.
Taken leave of our senses?
Hardly… we are in the unchartered waters of lunacy and madness.
And that is being polite to the extreme.