Living the Dream – 31. BREXIT

The clock is ticking toward the end of March, which at the time of writing is B-day. Brexit. That said, fear not, tempting though it is to embark on a rant as to the principle or the process, I find there are enough people out there blessing us with their wisdom.

Assuming that the exit occurs to schedule, what will it mean for us? Who knows? I am not surprised that little is fixed. I never believed that there was any real prospect of the politicians agreeing a comprehensive in advance. The EU (UK included) has a long history of struggling to reach agreement on anything meaningful without a host of carve-outs and caveats. I never saw any incentive for the body of the EU to make any sort of realistic treaty in advance.

Real work will begin post-exit.

Residence

Therefore, on April the first, (insert April Fool’s day joke of choice here) Mags and I will wake up as non-EU citizens living the EU. At the risk of offending those on both sides of the argument that see this as a watershed moment, I doubt either of us will notice. As EU citizens we applied for our beautifully named Alien Registration Certificate, which is indistinguishable from the one that non-EU nationals apply for too. Our European registered car had to be re-registered (and a hefty additional tax paid). On a specific local level, the ARC is the key to accessing services, irrespective of nationality.

Work

Work-wise, there is little clarity either. Nero’s Notes purchases some stock from the EU and has customers in the EU. It may be that the EU or the UK applies tariffs and customs checks. Honestly, I doubt it. The default setting for a bureaucracy is ‘status quo’. Politics apart, I cannot see any customs agency ramping itself up for a battle over notebooks or anything else. I anticipate that behind the scenes, civil servants will put measures in place to change as little as possible on a practical level, while politicians, functionaries and Twitter continue to boil and rage at each other for effect.

Some tell me that I am an ostrich and that Brexit marks a nadir in international cooperation. Perhaps they are right. We will all know soon enough.

In the mean time, I’m going to have a cup of tea.

Brexit – The end of days?

Bullingdon Club

I wrote a post about Brexit not long ago. You can read it here.

This blog is not really intended to be political, but sometimes I can’t resist.

The terribly dashing chaps highlighted in the photo are the poster boys of the Leave and Remain campaigns. Increasingly, both campaigns are spouting sensationalist rubbish.

They would have us believe that the day after the referendum, businesses will collapse, or instantly prosper. Our borders will become impenetrable, and fortress UK will sink like a stone, or soar like an eagle. Other European countries will heave a huge sigh of relief, either glad to see the back of us, or delighted that we have stayed in.

I hate to disappoint. Actually, absolutely nothing will happen. The vast majority of ordinary people in mainland Europe will barely register that we had a referendum, let alone know the result. Should we choose to exit, it will take at least two years to negotiate the terms.

Mr Cameron has hinted that Brexit will prompt war, pestilence and plague and Mr Johnson suggests that having defeated Napoleon and Hitler, mighty Britain will finally be subdued and made vassal by bureaucrats in grey suits.

If we are talking war – I would look a little further East to Mr Putin.

Should we stay or leave, business will get on with it. That’s what business does. The world will continue to turn.

In my never humble opinion, the EU is finished anyway. While our Eton boys biff away, the Italian banks are once again on the point of collapse and when they go down, they will take the state with it. The European Central Bank will come up with a plan, as it did for Cyprus, Greece and Ireland. Given that the Italian economy is an awful lot bigger, the plan will need to be an awful lot bigger too. Ferocious austerity will be imposed on Italy. (Good luck with that.) There will need to be gargantuan write-offs of debt, and German citizens will need to accept another kick in the living standards to keep Italy afloat: At least until Spain collapses anyway.

In the past, countries could use interest rates and quantitive easing (printing money) to influence their economies. That option is no longer there, meaning that countries in real trouble are saddled with the exact opposite monetary policy that they need.

Let me add a disclaimer here. This is just my opinion. I do not work for the IMF, ECB, BOE or even The Economist. But I’m right.

Grexit, Brexit, Anyexit. None of these will fatally the EU. The EU was fatally wounded in 1999 when the Euro was introduced. It’s just taking a bloody long time to die.