Quite frankly, I’m tired of people comparing the two and assuming that because I supported Brexit that I would support Trump. They are very different matters, and the only thing they have in common is that both have divided a nation. Brexit was a one off vote on a matter of national sovereignty, and the US Presidential Election is held every four years to determine which party should represent the Executive Branch of the Government for that term.
Whatever the outcome, there was always going to be discord, mainly because people are misinformed, or only want to see what’s in it for them. I’m tired of hearing millenials moaning that their future is ruined, or those with multiple homes and businesses across the continent complain that their profits will go down and they will have to pay more taxes (when they actually probably paid none at all). Quite simply joining the EEC, now the EU was a relationship like a marriage, and at the time it suited the needs of all parties. As time passed, that relationship deteriorated as more people joined the ‘family’ and there were more squabbles, and the union no longer was compatible with the domestic ideals and needs.
Since the UK joined the EU, each government has had issues and arguments with the member states and has been trying to extricate itself for more than 30 years, before the millenials were even born. Now, I’m not picking on them, but when a 25 year old is asked what they would do in power, a large proportion say they would put the UK back into the EU, not even understanding why that would be a bad idea beside being undemocratic. All they can see is what is in it for them; free movement to live, work, and study where they want. There is more to it than that, and they cannot understand that Parliament is sovereign, and the EU had been chopping away at that and forcing their rules over that of domestic law, rendering the judiciary at times pointless.
The main issues have been over migration and asylum seekers, benefits, the collapse of the NHS, and workers’ rights. If we backtrack to the time before the EU expanded to Eastern Europe, we will see that these were still issues, but not on the uncontrollable scale they are today.
The NHS was devised to assist people and to ensure all citizens had a means to healthcare. It was not set up to accommodate migrants and millions appearing out of the blue. As a result the NHS has been overburdened, people can’t get to see a GP or an appointment at the hospital because of the law that allows all EU citizens the same benefits as a domestic citizen. Many of the poorer countries in the EU do not have a reliable healthcare system, so they come to the UK. How can the UK afford this, when it is funded by people paying National Insurance when migrants have not paid into the system? By leaving the EU, migrants will no longer have an automatic right to free healthcare that they have not contributed to, thus the NHS should have more funds, and surgeries and hospitals can assist those who are legally entitled to the services.
The topic of welfare benefits has been a contentious issue among the population. Cameron’s negotiations to limit benefits fell short of an actual solution when he attempted renegotiations—it didn’t solve the problem. Migrants were distributing literature on how to use the system, and claiming child benefit for children that weren’t even in the UK or who could even speak English. The EU ministers were not sympathetic to this as the UK coffers were being drained, and Brexit ensures that child benefit payments are indeed only paid to children in the UK and whose parents are legal residents.
Migration rather than immigration has affected communities and the workplace. Cheaper labour has meant wages have gone down, and communities have become fragmented where migrants, rather than assimilate, force their own customs upon others. This has left many communities torn, and has also allowed more criminal activity as previous convicts would come to the UK to work with no records to alert anyone of their prior history. Brexit would close that loophole, and while it won’t solve crime it won’t enable criminals to live off the grid and under the radar in the UK.
The main issue of worker’s rights is a complex one. People can work in any country they wish, and before the EU people applied for visa and work permits as they still do for other countries. Therefore, if you wish to work elsewhere you can apply, and while it maybe a little harder it’s not impossible. Many of the unskilled jobs that migrants undertook have cheapened the labour market, which hasn’t helped domestic citizens who live in the UK and aren’t just staying for a few years to make fast money. It has disadvantaged them because the migrant labour is flexible and willing to work for less because they know they will leave once they have made their money. On a personal level I have experienced this myself where my clients chose cheaper staff when the Polish came over, and the rates for staff went down as a result. It lasted a couple of years until people realized it wasn’t cost effective, as the staff had poor language skills, were lazy as they knew they would be leaving soon, and there was no loyalty, and led to a loss of business. Simply put, it was not good for business, even though it meant more profits for a short period of time.
There have been several EU laws that one assumed would benefit the nation, however, that is not always the case. The government has opposed some EU laws, and reluctantly accepted some. I recall the working time directive and it was sold as a good thing, but it never was. It was to enable people to ‘opt out’ and work hours in excess of the maximum recommended government laws, but in reality, people had the choice to work overtime or not. This directive put a stop to this, as the working week was extended to 48 hours a week, thus employers who had employees on a fixed salary could get more work from them without paying more. In my first job, my working hours were 37.5 hours a week and if I was required to work more, I would be paid time and a half. Shortly afterwards when the new laws came into force, those hours were extended, but as I was on an old contract it didn’t affect me, but my colleagues who joined after me had to work more hours for the same pay. The laws didn’t benefit the workforce, only the employers.
Another example of how the EU laws failed is when they introduced holiday pay for agency, part-time, and temporary workers. The idea was that all workers should be entitled to the same benefits as full-time employees. The sad truth is that it failed, where few companies paid it, but instead incorporated the holiday pay into the hourly wage or daily rate. I worked for several companies that did this, and it wasn’t illegal, but a loophole they jumped through. As a result the workers didn’t get more money, but a lower hourly rate in effect. It also allowed employers to profit more. In one contract job I was on, the downside of printer stations is that you don’t know who will see what you have printed unless you stand by it at all times. On this occasion I saw a print out of the costings my director was charging a client for my services which included National Insurance contributions and holiday pay; none of which I got as it was contractually included in the daily rate. Thus, the company was entitled to make those charges, but not obliged to pass them on to me.
The law has failed as a whole, as most agency workers won’t question the law in fear of losing work. I did query it once and ended up being fired, and then I took the company to a tribunal and won. Companies will try to get out of paying more even if they are required to do so by law. I found a loophole in a contract I was on and successfully claimed several hundred pounds of back payments of holiday pay. I relayed this to my fellow workers, and the company threatened to sue me if I told people how to claim! They would have been unsuccessful as they were in fact breaking the law, but many migrant workers won’t claim and thus employers will favor them over those who wish to have what they are legally entitled to.
These are everyday examples of why Brexit is necessary as gradually the UK was losing its identity and control over how the country was being governed. To the millenials who frown at not being able to work in a bar in France during Summer, in a decade when you settle down with a career you will be grateful that people voted to give power back to Parliament, and that when you need the NHS in old age you won’t have the queues that there are today.
Brexit was about the laws of the land, not one person or change, but it is a bitter and nasty divorce where the EU wants a cash settlement and the perks they have been used to. The relationship had broken down years ago, and it’s time to part ways as amicably as possible. The relationship had run its course and was strained in trying to make it work, and people need to face that fact. Those that still campaign to remain aren’t helping the country—all they do is weaken the financial markets with uncertainty. One will agree that it does take an Act of Parliament to repeal the European Communities Act, but Parliament should act on the will of the people as they agreed. The recent High Court case that challenged the right of the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50 was originally whether a referendum was legally binding as the intent was to overthrow the result. Now they seem to accept the result, but want Parliament to have a say in how Brexit is negotiated. That should be up to the sitting government, although Parliament has the right to discuss the Bill in order to pass the Act, but not necessarily on what terms Article 50 should be triggered.
The key to winning a getting a good deal is to keep things close to your chest and not in an open forum; if these people want Brexit to work, they need to trust the government, by all means discuss when to trigger Article 50, but the longer you take, the weaker the country becomes and is that what a good MP or citizen wants for their country?
There is a divide—not a class divide, but one of the selfish versus the unselfish and that is the same in the US. The unselfish won in the UK where people voted for the long term, while the remain camp wanted to benefit from the few advantages the EU offered because it suited them, but not the country. However, in the US, the selfish appeared to have won, where people voted for change—to make America great again. Actually it is great, but out of greed they wanted more, and they just don’t realize that they have it pretty good already. Change can be good, but detrimental too, and while people are too ashamed to say they voted for Trump, what does that say about them? I was never afraid to say I supported Brexit even if I knew people would lay into me, or unfriend me because there is a difference between making the right logical and moral decision and one that is personal.
God bless America, because it really needs some major healing, and perhaps more funding for education, as clearly there were many people who did not understand what on earth they were voting for judging from some interviews. There is a major shift in the world right now and it’s going to get rocky.