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Brexit – What’s really happening?

On the 23rd June all of us woke up to realise that the unthinkable had actually happened… Britain had voted to exit the European Union. However, the voting margin was so close that many questioned and still question whether such a huge decision could go ahead without a second vote. Despite over 4 million people petitioning to have a second EU referendum, British parliament has stuck to their guns by saying there was no threshold on votes and that Brexit would go ahead. Not only did we wake up to the reality that Britain had drawn a line on its membership with the European Union but we also saw the country become drastically divided with the 52% of Brexit campaigners and eurosceptics thrilled to bits that Britain was a step closer to ‘independence’ and the other 48% ashamed and in utter disbelief this was actually happening.

It didn’t take long to see the after effects of Brexit… we also awakened to see that the pound was at an all time low, in fact the lowest it had ever been in 30 years and the stock markets were crashing because of it. Then, of course, there was the utter outrage that we saw from those strongly in favour of remaining, which went viral pretty darn quickly. Yes… I’m talking about the cyclist who approached a group of Eurosceptics to tell them off and ask them to reflect about what they had done to the country but my all-time favourite has to be Boris Johnson getting jeered at by a crowd of pro-EU campaigners outside his home on the 24th June.  And to add to the ridiculousness of the situation, we witnessed Nigel Farage’s emotive speech at the European Parliament. Not only did he rub Brexit in EU officials’ faces but he also made some pretty outrageous comments, such as ‘none of them had actually had a real job in their lives and claimed that EU countries would lose out more if they did not trade with the UK (Oh the irony of it all). This statement might have made Farage feel smug but all he got from the EU officials were snickers and disapproval. On the other hand, the Scottish MEP, Alyn Smith’s speech was received with great acclaim whilst at one point it seemed to have momentarily wiped the smug look off Farage’s face.

For Bremainers, this was mildly satisfying to watch but it was sad and scary to see that this decision was potentially causing the United Kingdom to fall apart. With Scotland SNP first minister, Nicola Sturgeon saying that Scotland would most likely hold a second independence referendum so that they could remain part of the European Union should Brexit go ahead and talks of Northern Ireland and the Republic Ireland forming an Irish Union just so Northern Ireland could stay in the European Union. Is this really what Brexiters intended? It doesn’t seem like it because soon after the vote, many Britons were googling what the E.U. actually was (Yes you better believe it! Some people didn’t even know what they were voting for)! Many but not all, do regret voting to leave but what is done is done.


As if the above wasn’t bad enough, on the 24th June the country also went into political turmoil when David Cameron resigned as PM after losing the campaign to stay in Europe and announcing the country needed a new leadership to go ahead with what would be a lengthy divorce process from Europe. The best of all was that 4 days later on the 28th, the pioneer of the Brexit campaign, Nigel Farage, also stood down as UKIP leader, stating that he ‘wanted his life back.’ What a reason! Everyone behind Brexit was standing down just like rats abandoning a sinking ship! So obviously the pound took another pounding during the time it was leaderless (around two weeks). But when Theresa May was appointed as the second lady Prime Minister, people were filled with hope and the pound stabilised slightly. The hope instilled in many of the pro-European campaigners was short lived after Theresa May’s ‘Brexit means Brexit and we’ll make a success out of it’ speech. So her and her new government (including Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary) had the hefty task of steering Britain away from Europe and in a new direction from Wednesday 13th July 2016.

maySo what’s actually been happening since Theresa May came into power? Well, not much apart from lots of talks but other than this not much has advanced. We’re still in Europe (woohoo!) and they’re not even sure when to trigger Article 50 (the two-year process that will eventually divorce the UK from Europe). Scottish Independence Talks have also died down – probably because the current government is still none the wiser how to go about this whole Brexit situation. The thing is, Theresa May has suggested that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty could be triggered as early as the beginning of next year but this is still very unclear and uncertain, given the fact that there will be a series of elections occurring in Europe in 2017 (mainly French and German elections) and whether the UK goes forward with Brexit also depends on this. What Theresa May would probably be wanting to avoid next year is initiating Article 50 and then having other countries in the Eurozone not heed any attention to the negotiations that Brexit would ensue. So delaying Article 50 until later in 2017 may be a preferable option for May and her cabinet. However, many believe that Brexit will happen before 2020, seeing this is when the EU sets its new budget so it would be convenient for them to have the UK out of the Union by then not to mention the fact there will be general elections in the UK in 2020 and no one wants to have that on their backs when campaigning. So we know that the UK will most probably be out of the EU by 2020 but when exactly Article 50 will be triggered is still up in the air. Downing Street has been pretty invasive as to when it will be triggered that’s for sure and contrary to what Boris Johnson recently said, the article will not be evoked this year as May and her government are working on their negotiations.

eu-presidentAnd so they should be because can the UK really profit from the Single Market without being a member of the EU? Boris Johnson is adamant that the UK will strike a deal with the EU regarding staying in the single market. However, according to the EU Parliament, Britain will not be able to access the single market without free movement. In other words, they cannot close out EU nationals and then profit from the movement of goods that the EU has. Furthermore, it is unlikely the EU Parliament will lax on this, given the fact that they do want to give other EU state members any funny ideas but then could there be a middle ground where the UK is allowed to restrict migration but still remain in the EU and will this therefore, content the Britons enough for them to revoke Brexit? Who knows? Things are still just as uncertain as they were on the 24th June, the only difference is that we’re over the shock and the only thing we can do from now on is see how things pan out. The cards have been laid down and no one is sure what the next move will be, we just have to wait but whatever it be, it best be a well-thought move.


Negotiating Brexit – probably as easy as the chess game in Harry Potter!


Letter from an expat returning home to her country

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-15-41Sometimes I question myself about whether I am making the wrong decision, leaving the place where I have been living all this time… This place that promised me a life that would be a bed of roses but soon I realised that it was a place that offered more than just roses, it offered me a life full of colours.

An experience that has taught me for good or bad, who I am and what I am capable of. This has been my home, I have learned what goes on in nightclubs after hours, that you can be working 16 hours non-stop and also that hotels prepare their buffet as early as 6am!

This has been an amazing adventure, in which I have learned lots of things, like valuing my own effort, learning more about new cultures or customs and acknowledging the importance of my friends, people that become your family abroad and people that I have shared moments with, and have made unforgettable memories from just mere moments together.

Spending a cold night at home surrounded by friends, singing or just watching a movie, feeling the warmth from them, feeling nostalgic for our homes, families and even our own bed… Sharing sad moments, happiness or tiredness, feeling the empathy after a hard and long day at work, looking at your flatmate and suddenly smiling to each other, thinking about how much you need their complicity, about how happy you are appreciating this human connection among friends who have become your family away from home, are all things that I will dearly miss. And now that the time has come to leave, I think again, ‘Am I making the wrong decision?’ Because every person that has walked into my life during this experience has given me a little story, a little lesson…

An experience that, who knows, could be repeated again one day; however it will never be the same. I am leaving part of me in a city that I initially knew nothing about but now I consider it as my second “home”. The streets, parks or even the shops where I buy my bits and bobs have become my every day and even with less than two weeks left to return to normality, it still hasn’t it hit me that this adventure is about to end!

On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to being home, waking up in my bed and leading a comfortable life, but on the other hand I will miss a life full of uncertainty, a life, in which one week feels like an lifetime! Because changing jobs, house, meeting new people or just living unexpected situations becomes a daily occurrence. This has been a city that has filled my experience with many adventures making me a richer individual. But everything has to end at some point, doesn’t it?


Is this the right moment to leave? Again… Am I making the wrong decision? Most of the people I have met here came to this country with the intention of staying less time than what they actually ended up staying. Yes, we all usually end up extending our stay… expecting new emotions, more adrenaline but always when the moment comes to leave, everything seems to be a lot more attractive, you realise that you are happy here even if you’re working 60 hours per week, or arriving at home so tired that your brain can’t even put a sentence together whilst you’re about to get into bed still wearing your work shirt

However, one of the things that I thought about the most at the time I was making the difficult decision of leaving was that even after working more than I have ever worked in my entire life, this last year has still felt like as if I were always on holiday. Holidays that asked of me to enjoy the experience as much as possible by making the most of my time off to visit different places, join different kinds of activities around the city allowing me to meet new people every week. This experience has opened my mind so much by experiencing other cultures, tasting other types of traditional food and even changing the way I dress (dare I say) and it was at this point that I asked myself whether it would be possible or realistic to always live like this?

As a matter of a fact, going back home has always been synonymous to “going back to your normal routine”. But lots of things that you expect to be same back home have changed and you might feel “out of place” in some situations. However, I intend to continue feeling like I’m on holidays no matter what, because you are not wrong – when you leave an experience behind, it is because you’re about to live another.

screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-10-15-58Leaving a place that has given you lots of things in such little time is difficult, but I am looking at things from another perspective because if anything this is what this whole experience has taught me. It has taught me new ways of doing things or if I dare say again that it has even made me a more mature, culturally richer and most importantly, more confident, I am more sure of myself than ever before and for this reason I have decided to go back to my country and still be “on holidays”.

After all, ‘life is like riding a bike, to keep your balance you must keep moving!’

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