My small act of defiance today. The EU flag is proudly flying on the front of my house © Ricky Yates

Today is a very sad day. At midnight tonight (CET), 23.00 (GMT), the United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union (EU) and consequently, I will lose my EU citizenship.

All this has come about through an ill thought out referendum, held more that three and a half years ago. It was called by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, not for the benefit of the country but to avoid a complete split in the Conservative party. In that referendum, which was only advisory, 37% of the electorate, which was then 27% of the population, voted to leave the EU. Which means that 63% of the electorate and 73% of the population did not vote to leave the EU.

The leave campaign broke electoral law, was backed by ‘funny money’ from abroad, and told lies of which this is probably the most famous example.



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Those who voted ‘leave’ were predominantly elderly, white, English nationalists, believing that the England they fondly remembered from the 1950s could be recreated, along with the British Empire.

Probably about 750,000 of those people who voted ‘leave’, are now dead. Yet the views of a whole swath of young people who were not eligible to vote, but who opinion polls indicate would vote overwhelmingly ‘remain’, will have to suffer the consequences. Bungling Boris and his cronies keep telling us that ‘leave’ is the will of the people. In part, it is the will of the dead now being imposed on the living.

As far as I am concerned, major constitutional change should only take place with a super majority of at least 60%. A good example of what I mean has been well-illustrated by the Church of England where a two-thirds majority of each of the three houses that make up General Synod, had to be in favour before women could be ordained deacon, priest, and more recently, as bishops.

Three days after the June 2016 referendum, I was preaching at the monthly English-language Anglican Evening Prayer service in the Frauenkirche, Dresden, about which you can read here. It is when I am in Dresden that I am particularly reminded of why the EU, or strictly speaking its forbear, the European Economic Community (EEC), was formed. The continent of Europe had experienced two horrific world wars during the twentieth century and the desire was to prevent that ever happening again.

1975 referendum poster

This poster, from the 1975 referendum campaign, which resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of EEC membership, spells that thinking out, very clearly. Yet the supporters of Brexit, particularly the right-wing UK press, seem to think that we are still fighting the Second World War, almost 75 years since it came to an end. They use the language of WW2 saying, ‘We stood alone’, so we can do so again.

Whilst the UK may have stood alone for a short while, the only reason that WW2 was won was because of the intervention of American forces, together with Stalin’s Red Army. UK forces also benefited from many Czechs and Poles who served, particularly in the RAF. Yet it is Czechs, Poles and other EU citizens from Central and Eastern Europe who are now deemed by Brexiteers to be ‘unwanted immigrants’.

Bungling Boris’s cry is to ‘get Brexit done’. He and his supporters will be celebrating tonight. But they haven’t got ‘Brexit done’. The country now enters an eleven month transition period during which time, the UK will still be following EU rules and contributing to EU funds. In that period, there have to be negotiations to agree the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU.

The only way a trading agreement will be achieved in eleven months is if the UK agrees to abide by all current EU rules and regulations and all future ones. This will include allowing for the free movement of labour. The only difference will be that the UK will no longer have any input into the creation of those rules and regulations. It would be what is often referred to as BRINO – Brexit in name only.

Failure to agree to such a deal will lead to massive and long-lasting economic damage. You cannot cease your membership of the club and still have all the benefits of being a member.

The benefits of leaving the EU

There are no real benefits for the UK by leaving the EU – unless you think having a blue passport, produced in France, is a benefit.

President Macron & Chancellor Merkel enjoying a joke

Whilst the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU, does protect me in my current situation, at least until the end of 2020, there are still issues to be resolved, especially in the area of free movement. And I am always aware that I and every other UK citizen living within the EU, can so easily be used as pawns in future negotiations. At various times, UK government ministers have referred to us as ‘cards’ and ‘bargaining chips’.

Therefore today has been a further kick up the backside to me, to get on with my Czech citizenship application. I have been procrastinating these past months from writing my long essay about my life, travels, education, and why I want to become a Czech citizen. The first section is now written but there is still more to do before I can send it off for translation into Czech.

16 comments to Brexit

  • Pauleen Bang

    Feeling sad with you and for you, Ricky.

  • Lynsey

    Great post, Ricky. A sad, sad day indeed. One I never thought I’d see 20 years ago when I was studying Modern Languages and European Studies. I hope we will return to the EU in my lifetime. There’s always hope.

    • Ricky

      Thank you, Lynsey. It is nice to have contact with you once again, now you are no longer on FB. It is a day I never thought I would see either. However, the right wing press & their non-dom owners have convinced sufficient people, especially the white working class, that the EU is the source of all their problems & the increasing levels of inequality in the UK. Then there is the antiquated, undemocratic UK electoral system, together with the Labour opposition being led by an unelectable individual who nailed his colours firmly to the fence 🙁

      There is always hope for the future but, in the meantime, there will be five years of bungling Boris wreaking havoc to the UK economy.

  • Mike Bohemia

    A sad day indeed. I too will apply for Czech citizenship after doing the language exams. England is the laughing stock of Europe and will ironically end up as the lapdog of the selfish USA.
    A great blog post Ricky. Good luck with your application.

    • Ricky

      I agree and as I wrote, yesterday was a very sad day 🙁 I wish you good luck & success in your Czech citizenship application, especially in passing the language exam. However, you are married to a personal tutor 😉 As you know, by virtue of age, I am excused the language exam but thank you for your good wishes.

      Yes, the UK has become the laughing stock of Europe, except to the small groups of supporters of far right parties in various EU states. Likewise, the UK will end up being manipulated by an American president whose motto is ‘America first’, unless BRINO is adopted by the UK in its forthcoming trade negotiations. If so, what was the point of leaving the EU in the first place?

  • David Hughes

    It’s not great for any of us Britons who live in the EU but there’s little point in relitigating the referendum as you have partly done above. I was to remain but the campaign was witless and bloodless and since the vote the loud ultra-remain strategy and the fetishisation of the EU, which has been almost as myopic as the demonisation from the other side.

    In its own terms, it has worked for the Tories as UKIP has been destroyed and whatever the Brexit party was – and I don’t think it was a political party – is wound up while the Tories have a large parliamentary majority. Cameron swanned off to enjoy his cash leaving nothing in place and while Osborne didn’t get the job he really wanted, and seemingly was promised, he has managed to land 9 positions with various organisations.

    Of course, it’s revealed a nativist strain in English/British politics that’s nasty, brutal and disturbing but that was encouraged by senior politicians of all stripes with their talk of immigration.

    As you note, Brexit now enters a new stage of its negotiation process. It’s going to be the gift that keeps on giving. The discourse in Britain’ll probably get shriller, the real problems the country faces won’t get addressed and there’ll be more politicians wrapping themselves in various flags. It’s not a terribly enticing prospect.

    • Ricky

      Thank you, David, and I concur with nearly all that you say. However, I do think it’s important to continue pointing out that the referendum was hijacked by ‘funny money’ & in breach of electoral law. I don’t want future UK elections being bought by major financial donors.

      I fear that what you write in your final paragraph is what lies ahead. It certainly isn’t a very enticing prospect.

  • Daniela

    Hi Ricky, I’m so sad that UK is really leaving EU. I couldn’t say anything when somebody reminded me, today is real Brexit, I was almost crying. Hope the border stay open…… for us.

    • Ricky

      Hi Daniela! It’s lovely to have you commenting here for the first time 🙂

      I share your sadness! I didn’t realise how much the reality of losing my EU citizenship yesterday would affect me. But like you, at times I’m close to tears. The border will remain open for me as I won’t lose my British citizenship if I am successful in applying for Czech citizenship. Both countries allow for dual nationality. But I do hope that Czechs & other EU citizens will still be made welcome in the UK & not treated as unwanted foreigners.

  • Sean Mccann

    Hi Ricky,
    You have the condolences of our entire family and our friend Caroline woven into this email; Caroline, like yourself, is dismayed and disgusted by the actions of the UK Government as she too, is reliant on her UK pension to keep body and soul together. Her situation is slightly less precarious than yours in that she has Irish citizenship by virtue of her mother being an Irish emigrant to the UK in the 1940’s. However the pension is for her, as for you, the thin ice of the whole stupid mess. She has become an expert on the day to day fluctuations of Sterling and the Euro and usually it isn’t in her favour.

    Ricky, you and I have discussed the whole history of European division and divisiveness here before and expressed (as you do here again) our fears for the future. And as you know our family has concerns closer to home around the whole Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland hard border/soft border/no border scenario. We can only share your belief that yesterday was a very sad day and may presage some dark days ahead even while hoping and longing to see sanity, rationality and goodwill triumph in the forthcoming deal making phase. God grant we’re not hoping in vain, sanity and goodwill seem to have been lost in the rush to gloat and glory in an imaginary independence and ‘renewed sovereignty’.

    A friend showed me somewhere online that British ex-pats permanently resident in Brussels came out to cheer the final ceremonial lowering of the Union Flag in front of the EU buildings yesterday evening; celebrating their isolation by their ‘homeland’ – my friend summed it up in Irish slang as follows:- ‘Did you ever see such a shower of effing idiots?’

    Bear up as best you can Ricky, you have many friends around Europe who share your thoughts and views. I hope Mr. Buffoon Johnson doesn’t proceed to gamble you away as chips in a pointless poker game with ‘unwanted foreigners’.

    God bless Ricky, we’ll be with you in spirit, Sean.

    • Ricky

      Thank you as always, for your long & thoughtful comment, Sean. I appreciate your sympathy & understanding. Please also pass on my regards to your friend Caroline whose situation I can very closely identify with.

      I totally understand your concern regarding the Irish border situation. Unfortunately, Buffoon Johnson & his cohorts don’t have a clue about Ireland, nor do they really care. As I wrote, he and his supporters are basically white, relatively elderly, English nationalists. Both Northern Ireland & Scotland voted to remain in the EU. But England is bigger, has more votes & so England rules.

      I have to say that some of the behaviour of the Brexiteers last night in London, which I witnessed on TV here, makes me completely ashamed to be British. But they haven’t got their freedom or independence back – the reality is that they never lost it. But what they have lost are a whole host of benefits which they won’t get from being outside of the EU. The cartoon of the empty cupboard is highly accurate.

      I do understand that there are many in Europe who understand & share my view – see the numerous previous comments which this post has attracted. My thanks to you for once again visiting & commenting.

  • Interesting to read your thoughts, Ricky. It was a sad day for both of our countries yesterday 🙁 All the better to get rolling with the citizenship application I guess, as you mentioned, but unfortunate that it comes down to this. I feel bad for everyone caught up in this mess and forced to make decisions they would rather not have liked to make, like moving back.

    • Ricky

      Thank you, Cynthia. The leadership of both our countries at times makes me despair. But yes, I need to get on with my citizenship application & not procrastinate any more. And like you, I feel for all those caught up in this mess, particularly EU citizens living & working in the UK who are increasingly being made to feel unwelcome & unwanted.

  • Jonathan

    Hi Ricky,

    The Brexit deed is done, or at least the UK has reached a point where it can shape its own future, or so it thinks.

    I have only an external interest in said future, as I’ve lived outside the country for 36 years and no longer have any voting rights. Future events may affect me but hey, no man’s an island.

    I agree with the comment above that the referendum, although arguably an appalling error of judgement, was a democratic process and nobody voted under any coercion.

    I do disagree with your pejorative use of the words white and elderly. Referring to colour and age in a confrontational sense is unhelpful. Nobody can help the colour of their skin, while age in cultures more ancient than that of the West is seen as a virtue and a source of wisdom rather than a motive for disdain.

    • Ricky

      Hi Jonathan,

      Yes, the act of Brexit has been done & the current UK government now thinks it can shape its own future. I understand that this affects you less than me because of the length of time you’ve lived outside of the country. I too will lose my voting rights before the next general election is due to take place, but the actions of the UK government affect the value of Sterling & therefore most of my income, (C of E pension & UK state pension) as it is paid to me in Sterling.

      The referendum was both an appalling error of judgement and far from being totally democratic. The leave campaign with all their false promises, was partly funded from a source that breached UK electoral law. I fear it is the thin end of the wedge where the winners in any future election are those who have the richest donors.

      I didn’t mean to be either pejorative or confrontational in saying that those who voted ‘leave’ were predominantly elderly and white. All I was stating is what numerous surveys have shown to be the make up of those who voted ‘leave’. I can be classed as ‘elderly’ and I hope I still have wisdom!