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April 02, 2019 22:46 +0000  |  Politics United Kingdom 0

Stephen started a conversation with me over a private Twitter chat the other day and I wanted to share it here (with his permission of course). I think it provides a pretty good snapshot not just of what the hell is going on over here, but also of how I feel about all of this mess at this time in my life.

This isn't a verbatim copy/paste, as I've tried to fix grammar, spelling, and message sequence where appropriate.

Third loss???? WTF is going on over there?

It's what you get when you put a few hundred people in the House who consider their own careers (and personal interests) above the country and its citizens.

  • The people were idiots and voted to leave (barely)
  • The new PM decides that 51% is a mandate and does her best to get a smooth exit
  • She spends 2 years fighting with her own party and not consulting the opposition about what sort of deal the UK wants, then goes to Brussels where she's treated as the UK deserved to be treated: a 2nd-rate country based on a tiny island off the coast of a massive economy, suffering from delusions of empire.
  • She returns with the best possible deal she was ever going to get (considering that she wasn't interested in doing anything the opposition wanted)
  • That deal is rejected by the opposition (duh)
  • It's also rejected by most of her own party because she's surrounded herself with disaster capitalists, hard brexiters, and a few remainers.
  • The deal won't pass
  • The alternatives won't pass
  • The default is no-deal
  • No deal means we are seriously fucked: food shortages, blockades, population exchanges... the whole thing. The House is playing with fire and doesn't give two shits who gets burned.

Ah but the house voted against no deal lol

Yep looks like you're fucked

Sorry....

Yeah don't remind me. Honestly, I was happy to have this country go up in flames, but now that I've got a kid here (who still doesn't have a passport (we're waiting on the government) I can't conceive of a way to get us out -- smoothly or otherwise.

To give you a rough Idea, I plotted on Google Maps the other day, the route to Dover on foot -- assuming I'd have to walk it to GTFO of this country. It's 37 hours straight walking for the record.

Do you absolutely need a passport? I can cross to the US with Everett without him having a passport

That's insane, why would you do that?

The UK isn't in Schengen, so it's full passport controls to enter & exit the UK.

That is zombie apocoplyse like talk.

My point re passports is only that I need a passport to get to the US but the kid doesn't because of age. Mind you that is by land.... not by air, and you are on an island... so yea....

I am honestly this concerned.

Food shortages mean looting and rioting. The Brits are not prepared for this in the slightest.

Oh and then there's the mass currency devaluation and liquidity controls that'll likely come in as well.

I figure if I can get to Dover, I can walk through the tunnel (assuming the trains are offline due to no-deal.

Say you get the passport, what would you do? You're tied economically to the UK.

OK that was nuts

What you just said

We're not really tied, no. Christina has a good job, and I have a good skill. I can work anywhere I want, and Christina can find work given her reputation. I'm not worried about us economically, aside from the savings I have in pouds.

I know you are mobile but I was thinking about Christina - academic jobs are not falling out of trees, but if you think you could then cool.

why not move your savings to Euros and Cdn?

BEFORE Brexit?

I've been doing that, but we don't want to move everything just in case.

But I do have more here than I should. I keep putting it off whenever good news comes across the wire. It makes me think that I won't need to move it.

There was good news? It's been one shit show after the other.

It's incredible that things have fallen that much over there.

It depends on how this all plays out. With each rejection, we move closer both to no-deal *and* to repeal of Article 50. The hope is that as all the alternatives fall away: general election, 2nd referrendum, different deal... you're left with only 2 options: no-deal, and no-leave. The ECJ has already ruled that the UK can unilaterally repeal Article 50 at any point until they actually leave so... it could go either way.

They say that you're supposed to judge risk not just on the odds, but on the outcome of the alternatives. If one option is "Zombie Apocalypse" bad, and the other is "ok so we don't starve", then the rational thing to do is plan for the apocalpyse.

Really? The UK can just walk away from this without the EU's permission? Hmmmm the problem now is the deadline, there is not enough time for a referendum and/or election.

So yeah, that's what's happening over here. I hope your day is better.

October 15, 2016 16:08 +0000  |  Cycling London Moving United Kingdom 1

We've managed to get out of London and move up to Cambridge, and it is so much nicer here. Cambridge is almost everything London isn't: clean, quiet, bike-friendly, and accessible. Where in London it will take 40min to 2 hours on the dark, disgusting Tube to get anywhere and do anything, in Cambridge you just hop on your bike and you're anywhere in town in less than 20min. There are garden festivals in the big open parks that double as cow pastures, and the air is clean. London's air quality is a toxic mess and a constant reminder of how much (nearly) everyone living there hates it.

Where our London flat was a dark, damp, rat-infested ground-floor shithole, our Cambridge home is a big, beautiful two bedroom flat in a modern building with secure bike parking. The rooms are wired for ethernet and the wifi is crazy-fast, the rooms are warm and the showers (yes, that's showers plural) are spacious and just wonderful.

OMG I don't think I can convey how much better life in Cambridge is when compared to London.

Christina has settled into her job as lecturer at the university and despite her fears, I think she's getting the hang of it. Fresh out of her PhD, she's now a lecturer at one of the most prestigious universities on the planet. I'm really proud of her.

In terms of my career, things have been a little more bumpy. I didn't want to renew my contract working for the British Government, so I moved to a company that had a London & Cambridge office hoping to take some of the pain out of the move. Then the job at Mozilla came up, and I almost got it, and now I've decided to give up on contracting altogether in order to take a job at a local start-up as lead developer. My time with my current employer ends in less than a week and then I've got a week off before I start at Money Mover. Lots of moving around, but I think in this latest stop, I've found a good company that suits me.

It sure will be nice to be doing the start-up thing again. I've really missed it.

June 24, 2016 17:52 +0000  |  Europe United Kingdom 3

I'm in Canada right now, so we had to watch the carnage unfold in real time on a BBC live stream. As soon as Newcastle reported in with its weak Remain results, the pit of my stomach began to sink and things never recovered.

The United Kingdom has made what historians will refer to as the greatest and last mistake in its long history. Scotland and Northern Ireland are already talking about leaving the UK to join the EU. The pound has dropped to the lowest point in 31 years and France has now surpassed them as the world's 5th largest economy. They've lost more money in a few hours than they contributed to the EU in 43 years.

I woke this morning to a sense of surreal dread. One thing is certain: the UK is undone. The only question that concerns me is how much of their self-destructive behaviour will rub off on the rest of us.

The UK economy has already started to contract. Major banking institutions are likely to follow through with their promise to relocate to Dublin and Frankfurt. That will undoubtedly increase unemployment, driving the country further into recession. For Christina and I, there are dangerous times ahead.

Three Paths

The real danger though is how far this madness will spread. Given the likelihood of a Scottish (and potentially Northern Irish) exit from the UK, England must be considered lost, but what of the rest of Europe? I can only see this going one of three ways:

Special Status

The worst possible scenario for all involved would be if the EU is so fearful of instability that it caves to the UK's demands to (a) remain part of the European Economic Area (single market) while (b) not being beholden to the four freedoms. For the non Europeans, this would mean that the UK would have free trade with EU nations but not have to allow free movement of people, goods, etc. They might even try to get away with not paying into the EU at all.

This would be catastrophic as it would signal to the other EU nations that they too could have all of the benefits of the EU without the responsibility. It would embolden the weak separatist voices in France, Norway, Greece, and the Netherlands and spur similar moves to exit as well. It would effectively end the European Union.

Remain Part of the EEA

This is the most likely (however ironic) outcome. The UK would negotiate a Norway-like deal wherein they remain part of the EEA while still being responsible for the four freedoms. Effectively, this would mean that the UK would keep all of the responsibilities the Leave campaign said they wanted no part of, (free movement, financial contributions) but give up its right to have any say in how those responsibilities are determined. As a bonus, Nigel Farage's party would no longer have any seats in the European Parliament.

This isn't as dangerous as the "special status" option above, but it runs the risk of separatist parties declaring this a victory (this is post-factual democracy after all). If other nations follow suit, this could have crippling effects on the EU.

Out in the Cold

In this scenario, the EU recognises this for the opportunity that it is and cuts the UK loose. Over the following years, as the rest of Europe watches the UK economy wither, and the country fracture from Great Britain into Little England, the UK becomes a cautionary tale for would-be separatists: "Leave the EU, are you nuts? Don't you remember what it was like for the English?"

"Better together" would no longer be a campaign slogan but a statement of fact and it would embolden Europe as a Union.

The obstructionist English voice in the European project would disappear completely, allowing for the agenda of an ever closer union to progress. Dreams like a fiscal union and a unified military would become more feasible.

My Preference

I tweeted about this last night and it was not appreciated by a couple of my followers, but I stand by it. The "out in the cold" option is the best case for Europe, the worst for the UK -- but they've made their bed. The European Union is the single most ambitious project humanity has ever undertaken and if it's going to survive, it has to cut the UK loose. They've voted to leave, let them serve as an example of just what leaving means.

I say this of course as someone who lives in the UK. Christina has her job at Cambridge, so we're stuck there for at least a year, but when that's finished, we'll be looking to return to Europe -- this in itself is a risk, as it means waiting an entire year while anyone with a degree of mobility works to get out of the UK.

I don't know what we're going to do when Christina's contract is up. We want to move back to the Netherlands, but by then the EU will likely be awash in unilingual anglophones with marketable skills. This could be Very Bad for us.

But if it's good for the EU, we're ok with it.