Last week, and for the first time in my adult life, I was told by a young and bored looking girl at Paris’s Charles de Gaul airport that I had to use the non-EU passport queue. i.e. the longer one filled with people who had that look.That ‘if you dress and look like that you are going to be heavily scrutinised and annoy everyone behind you’ look.
The cover of my passport has worn off with time and use so I assumed it was an honest mistake on her behalf. I politely explained to her that it was a British passport, and opened it to prove it. She nodded, chewed gum and told me that I was now no longer allowed to use the EU line. She was speaking to me without looking at me, the contents of her phone immeasurably more interesting than me and my battered ex-European passport.
It was then that it twigged.
‘Not yet’ I said to no one in particular and proceeded to join my fellow Europeans moving quickly towards the wooden booth guarding the border.
So a first shot in the battle for Brexit or just an honest mistake from a disinterested millennial?
I think the latter because I don’t believe Brexit will happen.
Not in a fingers in your ears, lalalalalala, not listening to you, just make it go away sort of way. No, in an it would be unimaginable, unthinkable, unfair and, I would argue, impossible for it happen sort of way.
Let me explain.
We find ourselves in the rather odd situation where both parties to this divorce fundamentally don’t want it to happen.
With the exception of a few grinning imbeciles most people in government and the important UK political parties think leaving the EU is a bad idea. A few hundred miles south of London almost everyone is shaking their heads in disbelief wondering what the hell is going on.
The only people who want Brexit are the people who voted for it.
So who are these people?
After the referendum as the dust settled the average yes voter was quickly profiled. On a whole they were categorised as English, white and old. Basically it was the baby boomers and generation X (my generation) who voted for Brexit. We are the people who have enjoyed membership of the EU for most of our lives. We gave the world Rock n Roll, free love, Led Zeppelin, global warming and a spend and live like there is no tomorrow mentality. The mañana generation and it seems, once again, they have proved there is no limit to their selfishness.
The referendum was delivered in a binary, yes/no, form though.
Yes prevailed but what does yes actually mean? Yes we want to leave everything and go it alone? Yes we want bits but don’t want the other bits. Yes to the free market, no to free movement of people?
Brexit means Brexit as the twitching sparrow is oft to repeat but I bet even she doesn’t know what this actually means. That’s because a yes/no referendum on thousands of different rules, regulations, laws and treaties is wide open to interpretation.
So if neither party to the divorce wants the divorce but they are being forced to why not just live together, or why not go all the way and join together in a civil partnership?
You still get to cohabit, sleep with each other, share bank accounts, pensions, toothpaste and Netflix accounts you just cant say you are married. Its not an ideal solution but definitely more agreeable than the alternative of a political vanity driven cluster-fuck of proportions only Stephen Hawking could conceive.
Yes, yes I know. It would piss off Mr middle income Anon Smith, white, aged 45 to 65 years old living out his make Britain great again fantasy in a green and pleasant Grimsby. We might get the odd protest but if we use the time wisely this slight of hand might not even be noticed.
If the leave campaign can generate enough spin behind a bus load of lies to win a majority surely the combined powers of parliament can do something similar with the old-fashioned concept of facts and the truth.
How about explaining that immigration will not be tangibly affected whether we are in the EU or otherwise. Allowing the French, the Germans, the Spanish into the country has never been the problem, it’s the ‘undesirables’ from outside the EU and the odd country inside which seem to be the problem.
How about explaining that Britain has never signed up to the Schengen agreement and therefore every person coming into the country by normal means has always had to go through a control.
How about pointing out that the UK has the best natural border on the continent, a whopping great big natural moat – the English channel.
How about explaining that Brexit will not be able to improve on the status quo, other than to stop allowing other Europeans to come over and live, work and study, and of course the British reciprocally?
If we can agree on the question of immigration, how about we go a step further and agree to pay an amount, lets just say for arguments sake we set it at exactly the same as our current contributions, to retain access to the free market?
If we can remove these two questions from the table then as I see it the rest is just heavy breathing and fishing rights.
So if we are to fast forward 10 years and the UK is not part of the EU but still operating in the same way we always did what will this exercise in pure democracy have delivered us?
Tangibly, three years of uncertainty, billions in value wiped off the currency and stock markets, an incalculable loss of business and human capital. A nation divided and our European neighbours looking at us like we have just cheated on them by sodomising their mothers.
But on the plus side it has delivered a huge bonanza payday for accountants, lawyers and bankers working on the fine print. So that’s good. I guess.
And if we don’t take a lesson from Alexander and take simple, elegant, easy route, what then?
Well smartphone Sophie at CDG airport will one day be correct.
And this, just cannot be allowed to happen.