Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Referendum

Oh no. Having spent the last several years paying only cursory attention to British affairs, other than to the achievements (or not) of various sports teams, it seems that I may be forced into discarding this comparative disinterest. A prevailing sense of ennui with Dave-ism, Corbynism, the ism of whoever it is leading the Liberal Democrats, Farage-ism, the loony rightism of much of the British press must now be subordinate to the frantic, the fanatic and the fantastic of the ensuing four months. As if I haven't enough on my plate with Rajoy, Podemos and the Infanta. Thanks a lot, Dave. Will you, by the way, be coming to Mallorca for your summer hols this year if if all goes it's up this June? Take care, Dave, there may be hidden dangers lurking behind the coffee-sipping photo opportunity at the Club Pollença. A wild expatriate donning a pith helmet and brandishing an elephant gun of non-voting-right shot aimed firmly at the prime ministerial posterior.

As a prelude to the hullabaloo that will now resonate until approximately Midsummer's Night, I confess to having admired a comment by a Sara on the Majorca Daily Bulletin website, in which she questioned why Brits who have lived outside the UK for so long insist on being called expats rather than immigrants. The word, she suggested, "sounds so colonial and snobbish". I would add that it can be used as a pejorative with which to attack Britons who have had the temerity to wish to live somewhere else and that - as a collective term - it seeks to ghettoise those who have no absolutely no wish to be recognisable as a member of a gin-drinking ghetto. I have long attempted to eschew the word. I can't stand it. Even if I may be one, I spend zero amount of mental time contemplating my status as one or agonising as to the meaning of E-life.

But Dave is going to force even a re-adjustment in this regard. You will not be able to move for the E-word between now and June and for several years after. The fate of those with E-status lies with the should we stays or should we goes of the summer solstice. We can prepare our fires for Midsummer's Night here in Mallorca, while Middle (mainly to the right) England heads to the polling stations, newspapers with strident front pages issuing instructions in their hands, and lights the kindling to unleash the fire of all fires. Atop this pyre will be the effigy of Jean-Claude Juncker, the great tomes from Maastricht, the labyrinthine documentation of the workings of the single market, liberal (as in unconstrained) sprinklings of benefits, migrants, eastern European rantings, anti-German sentiment, anti-French sentiment, anti-pretty much anything and, oh yes, anti-those of an E-status. Ha, ha, serves you right for turning your backs on a filthy British midwinter. Your Midsummer's Nightmare has arrived.

Of course, this may not be how things go. They may not go it's up. Dave will have saved the day. But that's all four months away. While the goes and stays trade blows from now until June, the British immigrant population of Mallorca (and Spain) will be in a state of high anxiety. What will it mean? Oh, woe is us. Where can we find answers? Will I be placed on the first Royal Air Force evacuation flight on the morning of 24 June?

Answers? What answers? As the questions aren't actually known yet, how can there be answers? Sorry, yes, there are of course questions. Many of them. But officially they can't be answered because the terms of reference are as yet unknown. And that's the biggest question of the lot. The unknown. The total unknown. There has never been a departure from the European project. The rules are not written. And it will take years for them to be, meaning that those of an E-status will be in a sort of an E-limbo land, brought about by the fascinations of Midsummer's Night and its Fairyland of Referendum.

For what it's worth, at a recent meeting of the now no-more Europeos por España there seemed reasonable confidence that those with permanent residence status would not be about to lose it. But don't take my word and, as yet, don't take anyone's word, because they don't know. All is speculation. All is prone to putting the wind up the British immigrant, causing anxiety and stress, when the T's and C's that will follow if the leaves have their day may well calm fears of mass deportations.

So now the waiting begins. In four months time we will know how well the good people of the United Kingdom will have swallowed the hysteria (or not). Questions, questions. And here's one. Whose head will be transformed into that of a donkey?

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