Chris in Cyprus

RIP remains of the UK.

– Chris in Cyprus

I am a UK citizen, but because I was born in N Ireland, the day after Brexit I took out parallel Irish Citizenship in order to retain EU flexibility (I have to add that Ireland’s tiny DFA is far more approachable, useful and courteous than the ever haughty self-important UK FCO which prides itself on ignoring those who pay for it in order to schmooze those who don’t). I am currently living in Cyprus where I am married to a Spaniard and we will likely move to Spain in 2018 when my wife retires.

I feel at an ‘interesting’ cusp-point”. I will be 63 this year: I am close to state retirement age but am not there yet. I will lose the right to vote in the UK in the next 5 years.

I have no idea what health care provision I will have in the future. I was basing all, until Brexit, on the mutual UK/Spanish arrangements within the EU. These may fail after March 2019. I feel entitled to this (having paid into the UK for 35+ years).

I have as little idea what will happen about my state pension. Again, I have paid in more years for NI than necessary in the UK. My dismal expectation is that a mean-minded, revenue-losing and increasingly desperate government will remove the indexing applicable today for all those living in the EU, irrespective of their contributions. (Of course, they may do it for UK pensioners as well.)

There is an inevitable side-effect of either or both of the above. Should my financial or health circumstances deteriorate, I envisage having no choice but to return to the UK. In so doing I necessarily ‘become a burden’ on the UK (unless the government removes the right of UK citizens to return to the UK???).

I have no faith in the UK government to know how to listen to or provide representation for the UK’s 5-15 million overseas citizens, who would merit at least 100-200 MPs (given an average UK constituency size of 70,000). For the record, I have already de-invested in the UK, having removed 95%+ of all financial resources and assets (including a modest private pension) from the UK. Sterling declines faster than an ice cream melting.

I also fear for my daughters and their husbands and children. However my guess they will probably vote with their feet when the bitter reality – of reduced lifestyle, income and opportunities – sets in. Fortunately, both daughters should be able to obtain Irish citizenship and move to the EU. The ultimate irony is that one is a UK-trained Intensive Care Unit Nurse and the other is multi-lingual, overworked and underpaid in an overstretched Civil Service that did not need Brexit. The UK can afford to lose neither.

I watch a particular number of EU citizen friends who have delighted to live in and contribute to the UK; I wait to see when they opt to leave for another more welcoming country (not necessarily their original one).

About the UK I care less and less, beyond the owed state pension and healthcare; the Brexit decision, accompanied by Mme May’s ineptness and inability to lead,  has already done the UK unimaginable economic harm and diminished its influence. Today the UK seems more like what England used to be many centuries ago – a small, unimportant if irritating island lost in a miasma of Brexit and/or Trump distortions with less and less to offer.

Finally, I am almost entertained after the recent EU/Japan Free Trade agreement. The German manufacturers – that the Brexiteers so confidently asserted could not afford to lose the UK market – can substitute their UK car sales (which will likely attract tariffs) for tariff free sales to Japan. This is a neat substitution the Brexiteers failed to consider, and Japan has a bigger population with a larger market.

RIP RUK (as in Remains of the UK).

Chris is just one of the volunteers to our Citizens’ Panel.