• Sunday, June 26, 2022

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Brexit FAQs explained

(Photo: NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images).

By: Radhakrishna N S

By Amit Roy

THERE is nothing permanent about Brexit. If it doesn’t work, a future generation can always ap­ply to rejoin the club. What Grou­cho Marx meant to say was, “I re­fuse to be kept out of any club that won’t have me as a member.”

Also, there have been so many deadlines and cliffhangers, there is no reason to think the UK and the European Union won’t continue to negotiate well into 2021 and be­yond. The rules of engagement be­tween the UK and the EU will con­tinue to be adjusted and finessed so that the damage caused by Brexit is reduced as far as is possible.

Meanwhile, for Eastern Eye read­ers, here are some thoughts for fur­ther discussion.

Is there anything good about leaving the EU?
In a negative way, yes. Previously, anyone from Europe could enter Britain, no questions asked. Now they can be treated just as badly as any­one from India or Pakistan.

Will there really be a level-playing field after Brexit?
Of course not. Spain is almost a second home to millions of Brits – between 800,000 and one million Britons own a property there. More important, the upper and middle classes have homes in France – it is reckoned between 150,000 and 300,000 of them live in France.

In theory, the new immigration rules will treat everyone equally once freedom of movement stops on December 31. In practice, a way will be found to circumvent the new restrictions, not least because the Spanish economy depends on Brit­ish holidaymakers looking for fish and chips and cheap alcohol in a sunny climate.

Will Britain flourish outside the EU?
It is not immediately apparent how leaving the world’s biggest trading bloc is a good thing. But neither is the EU’s Common Agricultural Pol­icy which pays farmers, especially in France, to produce surplus food which cannot even be given away to the world’s poor.

Britain is clearly in for a rough ride over the next few years. But (UK chancellor) Rishi Sunak thinks Britain will do better outside the UK – and he is a supposed to be a clever chap. How long the slump lasts is anybody’s guess.

In that case, was it really such a good idea to leave?
The answer to this is both yes and no. The British were determined to join, not necessarily because they were keen on membership, but be­cause their pride was hurt when General Charles de Gaulle of France vetoed the UK’s application in 1963. After a referendum in 1975, with a 67 per cent vote in favour, the UK joined the Common Market.

Sadly, this was not a marriage made in heaven. The referendum of 2016 split the country – 51.89 per cent for Leave to 48.11 per cent for Re­main, so 17,410,742 votes to leave and 16,141,241 to remain.

But after 40 years of a bad marriage, divorce is proving to be very acrimonious. It’s no good saying they should never have married, but actually that is the truth – this star-crossed couple should never have got married. It could all have been avoided if only Indian astrolo­gers had been consulted.

Surely the Brits don’t believe in this astrological nonsense since their leaders “follow the science”?
You would be surprised.

Are you going to explain that re­mark or not?
Oh, all right. There was the occa­sion when the Indian “godman” Chandraswamy came to London in the summer of 1975 and completely mesmerised Margaret Thatcher.

That is nonsense – the “Iron Lady” taken in by an Indian “holy man”? I don’t believe you.
It is set out chapter and verse in K Natwar Singh’s book, Walking with Lions – Tales from a Diplomatic Past (HarperCollins).

Natwar, who was deputy Indian high commissioner in London, lat­er became external affairs minister. In his book, he reveals how he took Chandraswamy to Mrs Thatcher’s office in the Commons. He convinced her he wasn’t a fraud, gave her a talisman and instructed her to re­port to Natwar’s residence in the Frognal, Hampstead, wearing a red dress, which she did.

This next bit is from Natwar’s book: “She asked many questions but the most important related to the chances of her becoming prime minister. My wife was also present.

“Chandraswamy did not disap­point Mrs Thatcher. He prophesied that she would be prime minister for nine, 11 or 13 years. Mrs Thatch­er, no doubt, believed she would be prime minister one day, but nine, 11, 13 years was a bit much. Mrs Thatcher put one final question. When would she become prime minister? Chandraswamy announced, in three or four years. He was proved right. She was prime minis­ter for 11 years.”

So are you saying that the future of Brexit, and that of the UK and the EU, are all in the stars?
No, of course not. But it is just worth pointing that the EU flag has 12 stars in it. Chandraswamy is no longer with us, alas, but I could always ask India House if they know of an­other godman.

Eastern Eye

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