Can we still be friends?

Once upon a time in a land far, far away and as the last rays of 2019 sunshine dipped below the eaves of the Palace of Westminster, King Boris sat on his throne, pondering a New Year message to his people. 

The great unwashed and common folk of the once-industrial North, had grown weary of the long war against Europe, started by his Etonian chum, Cameron of Pig-gate. It was a war with many casualties, dreamt up to cover his cruel persecution and neglect of the lowliest in the land. Cameron’s cunning plan had been to blame the EU for all the misery his reign had caused through his enrichment of nobility. However, Boris had galloped to the rescue and slain the EU dragon, with their irritating edicts and handouts to the undeserving provinces of his kingdom. His message would need to have some oomph, a pinch of defiance, bluster and above all, reconciliation. He had all but crushed the evil Corbanites with their weirdy pinchy- faced leader and shown those wretched French whom he had once labelled as turds, that he alone, not Europe, was the boss. He had once likened himself to the angry giant Hulk, but deep down he was just a pussycat. At least his latest girlfriend seemed to think so, although that poisonous troll of a wife could still make trouble.

The only thing left to do now was to deliver on all those promises: more leeches and witch doctors for NHS hospitals and free parking for those too sick to drive. The minimum wage would be increased by a couple of groats. Old people, who had filled the state’s coffers their entire working lives, would now be forced to work until they dropped, but first, a little well-earned holiday: he had to use up all those carbon-tax air miles before Greta the Christmas Grinch had them cancelled.

Greta Thunberg
Hey, Hulk! I’m watching your big carbon footprint Boris…

If only it was all a fairytale, but I woke from a fretful night’s sleep cursing that last vegan mince pie with extra plant-based cream topping. For me and the near 50% of British people who wanted to stay European, the nightmare was real. Our voice had largely been ignored for the last 3 years. Even the guy with the big blue tophat had given up the fight. Boris Johnson’s healing process was going to involve seeking the most extreme Brexit imaginable: a hostile environment for EU citizens living in the UK whilst simultaneously surrounding himself with the most right-wing cabinet of all time. His New Year address was more like an extra twist of the British knife crime statistics, but longer jail sentences and more bobbies on the beat would soon solve that.

At this point, I should offer some kind of apology, especially to my Brexiteer friends. I understand that we are no longer supposed to talk about the dreaded ‘B’ word and I promise to restrict my thoughts on the subject to these few paragraphs. Speaking personally, I would have found it difficult to vote for any MP who allegedly burned 50-pound notes in front of homeless people, in order to show contempt for the poor. Despite Johnson’s strenuous denials, I have in the back of my mind that his track record for honesty is hardly exemplary. However, many traditional Labour voters (presumably not Oxford Bullingdon Club members) did not place much weight on the matter. For me, it remains a perplexing mystery, but then again, I live in Spain; a lot seems to have happened in the UK during my 16-year absence. Of course, I am less excited about being stripped of my freedom of movement and possible deportation if I don’t earn enough, but that’s democracy for you. I am also aware that nobody really wants to talk about the giant no-deal elephant in the room, AKA a workable trade deal forged in record time, by people with absolutely no interest in doing so. 

Getting ready to give immigrants a warm British welcome.

In the end, long queues at food banks, worst A&E waiting times since records began, the collapse of Sterling, the well-forecast departure of the UK’s car industry and manufacturing base, the destruction of the Good Friday Agreement with its potential return to sectarian violence and the disenfranchisement of Scotland, wasn’t what worried people most. Instead, it was a fear of immigrants that had voters trudging out on a bleak winter’s night to place their cross in a box to get Brexit done

Nine years of Conservative austerity turned out to be caused by unelected officials in the EU and ehrrm (coughs politely)… lazy burkha-wearing letterbox migrants seeking a handout. Who would have thought? In the end, the genius plan of arch-villain and ace manipulator of tinternet, Dominic Cummings, turned out to be nothing more amazing than just not being Jeremy Corbyn. However, sources reliably inform me that there are still mutterings from Johnson’s throne of more nurses, more doctors, more police, more teachers, rocket scientists… in fact more of everything and free Champagne for everyone. It is practically guaranteed, once we get Brexit Done! LOL…

Boris Johnson Preserving the Union
Image credit Private Eye 4th Oct 2019

So my New Year message to those who voted leave by placing their faith in Boris is this: may all your dreams come true, no matter how hopelessly unrealistic and improbable they may be. My message to those who voted to remain: take it on the chin, you lost. Learn from the pain and think of it as a great victory for democracy. Remember Her Majesty The  Queen’s passionate Christmas message to all us little people: we must put aside our differences and come together as we march closer to the edge of The White Cliffs of Dover. It is going to be the best Brexit ever, for millionaires, so I am off to buy another lottery ticket and whilst doing so, I will wish you all a happy, prosperous and above all peaceful 2020

4 thoughts on “Can we still be friends?”

  1. You state that a million retired expats will be forced to return to the UK. This is scare mongering. The British pensioner expats retain their full rights, if legally resident in Spain. This is included in the Withdrawal Agreement and is set in stone, assuming ratification by 31 January

  2. Hello Lucinda and thank you. I wouldn’t have wanted to vote for any of them this time around. It was the same dilemma facing US voters. Which would be worse, Trump or Clinton? It makes you wonder if something is broken in our democracy when money and outside interests prevail. A Happy New Year to you also. Que tengas un buen viaje. If you have time, I would love to read the article about Putin and his friends.

    1. My apology Wendy. You are right. The comment regarding millions of retirees being forced to return to the UK could indeed be construed as scare-mongering. I had overlooked that the Withdrawl Agreement was attached to a separate treaty which does now guarantee the rights of legally resident British citizens in the EU, provided they are legally resident during the transition period. This was not the case in the previous no-deal Brexit scenario, despite a Spanish Royal decree. I have removed the reference from the article and added a link at the end for any residents wishing to know more about what their status will be after 31st January 2020.
      However, many thousands of ex-pats will be forced to return to the UK and a friend of mine has already done so, due to the lack of clarity over future status and the diminished value of the pound. Neither has the possibility of ‘no-deal’ gone away, thanks to some unnecessary brinkmanship from the British PM (not that Labour would have been any better). I am more concerned about what is going to happen to the many thousands of people like myself. We live and work in the EU and pay into the system. However, it is expected that Spain will adopt a “constitutive system” which means we are going to have to re-apply for a residency permit. This may not be granted if residents don’t have the resources to prove they are self-sufficient. Furthermore, the increasing isolation of the UK is making it much more difficult for non-retirees to continue to work here. We are now discriminated against in job applications, the Real Estate business, on which many depend, has all but collapsed for UK- focused agents. What about if you marry someone from Spain? Maybe my sons may wish to do so but they would not be allowed to live in the UK with their Spanish bride. I am not certain they would want to, but this is a right they have enjoyed up until now and which will be stripped from them after the 31st January 2020.

  3. I see like us, you wer denied a vote having been out of the UK for mor than 15 years. I breathed a small sigh of relief, as I would not have known who to vote for. A comedy column I wrote 6 years ago with Boris, Putin and Trump on the phone plotting to fool the people has, agaonizingly, come true. Happy New Year to you Alistair, Heather and family. We’ll weather the changhes here in Spain and at least we can remain.

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