Friday, 13 July 2018

And now the White Paper

Two years ago we were on holiday in the bailiwick of Guernsey. A crown dependency. As Guernsey is not in the EU we were interested to see how they fared outside EU jurisdiction.
We voted in the EU referendum. Before we left home we posted our referendum voting slips. We did our duty - we placed our votes as members of a democracy, which constitutes a hard-fought-for set of rights.

And then we went on our hols.
Distances on an island are short. In Guernsey we were able to walk to beaches, to smart hotels for a glass of wine, to parks to admire flower beds and goldfish in quiet ponds, to a local Marks and Spencer, to a bank and to a Co-op. The caretaker for our holiday residence said she felt that not being in the EU didn’t affect immigration. Indeed in hotels, supermarkets and cafes we were served by men and women from outside the waters of the bailiwick. It seemed, therefore, when waking up on June 23, 2016, that the result to leave the EU (and reduce immigration) would not have great material effect. If the overriding desire for leaving the EU was based on reducing immigration, inter alia, maybe the act of leaving wouldn’t actually give the Brexiteers what they wanted.

We could see that ‘there may be trouble ahead’ if only in the huge bureaucratic untangling to extricate ourselves from EU policy and practice. 

At the time, June 2016, the French minister for the Economy, Finance and Digital Affairs said that if England were to leave the EU it would end up being very small - a bit like Guernsey. As we saw it Guernsey was doing very well indeed. Although, as a tourist, one sees the gentrified areas. We didn’t see people struggling, labouring in fields or living in overcrowded accommodation. Such experiences are not on the tourist itinerary.

We’d hardly heard of the French minister at the time. His name is Emmanuel Macron.

As Guernsey is not a member of the EU its Protocol 3 relationship, whatever that is, is shared with the Channel Islands of Jersey and Alderney and the Isle of Man. But, although Guernsey is not part of the UK, when the UK leaves the EU Protocol 3 will have to be replaced by new trade in goods arrangements.
We’ve heard a lot about the Irish border but nothing about the crown dependencies.

This summer we went to Ireland and paid for our groceries, petrol,beers, wine and Guinness in euros. Ireland is part of the EU. Again they seem to be doing very nicely. Again we were served by non-Irish men and women in pubs, bars and cafes and on Irish Ferries. 

The similarities between Guernsey and Ireland are worth commenting upon further, I think. The parts of County Wexford we saw is pretty, calm, rural and has good roads and empty beaches. Guernsey’s roads are busier - but on an island there are fewer roads and traffic is bound to be more intensive. Otherwise both Guernsey and Ireland were welcoming, rural, happy places. Ideal for holidays away from the busy - but beautiful - city of Bath. 

Just as schools break up, our own summer holiday has ended. It's back to earth with a bump - and Brexit. And to add to my sins I'm trying to focus on the White Paper:


Re: Ireland and Northern Ireland the White Paper says:

“Taken together, such a partnership would see the UK and the EU meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship: preserving the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK; honouring the letter and the spirit of the Belfast (‘Good Friday’) Agreement; and ensuring that the operational legal text the UK will agree with the EU on the ‘backstop’ solution as part of the Withdrawal Agreement will not have to be used.”

I understand a bit of that.

I’ve only read the first few pages of the 104-page White Paper. As far as I can see Guernsey is mentioned thus:

“The UK will be seeking specific arrangements for the Crown Dependencies, Gibraltar and the other Overseas Territories. These arrangements should take account of the significant and mutually beneficial economic ties between these economies and EU Member States, including their overseas countries and territories.”

I’m not sure how leaving the EU affects the Channel Islands if new arrangements are to 
“take account of ... significant ... ties between these economies and EU Member States.”

That doesn’t read like a huge change to me.
And I think that’s what Brexiteers are cross about: That the White Paper seems to show, from March 2019, we would hardly be shifting our position re: the EU. We may as well stay in. I repeat may.

Thankfully I’m living on a teacher’s pension and am not having to consider things like workforce, customs, profit and loss or trading partners. I can follow Brexit manoeuvring at a remove. Rising prices are certainly affecting me, but then so is the increase in the interest rate. And this latter has nothing to do with the EU. (Now we are both semi-retired I'm glad we only have a tiny mortgage.) 

When I’ve read all 104 pages of the White Paper I may understand more and be able to make a better, informed opinion about how it affects us and others. I repeat may...

And I wonder what Theresa really thinks...

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