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Brexit…Can We Fix It?

It’s taking some time for the idea of “Brexit” to settle in. Just getting my head around what it really means is enough to get it spinning.

The news that the British voted 52% to 48% to exit the European Union was as much of a shock as if the upcoming US election results will put Donald Trump in the Oval Office. I never dreamed either would be possible, and there it was, the results of what can only be explained as the fear factor encouraging the uninformed to blame someone or something for their disenchanted lives…blaming the muslims or immigration or the EU without considering the ramifications of their actions.

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Here in Europe, Brexit is as much on everyone’s tongues as is “The Donald” on the tongues of Americans. The term means “British Exit” (just in case you didn’t know) and refers to the June 23rd referendum to remove Britain from the European Union. In the flash of a split second positive vote to make such a grossly negative move, the British pound fell to its lowest value in decades, Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation and Scotland has declared its devotion to remain in the EU.

The dominos aren’t just falling one by one — the fall-out from the decision is more like a tidal wave that is out of control hitting land and destroying everything in sight. The news just doesn’t stop with the aftermath of might as well have been a war. Neighboring countries are already getting requests from Britons to seek new citizenship there. I suspect if Donald Trump is elected, we’ll see Americans added to that list and France is sure to get many of them. (I often joke that our property business in France will double should that happen!)

The open border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU) is already in question, since Brexit is a means to tighten the UK’s borders which could have what one journalist called “staggering implications.” Did the people and the politicians think of this? Of course not. They didn’t think at all. They just thought with their fear instead of with their heads.

One of the big questions is what happens to all the Brits working in the EU without any kind of work permit needed. That’s a deal that has yet to be cut. And what happens to the EU members working in the UK…like the hundreds of thousands of French in London making it one of France’s largest cities!? Again, that’s a deal that yet to be cut. They may both be saddled with applying for work visas and finding themselves all in the same situation as us Americans seeking work in Europe or Europeans seeking work in the US…in a big mess.

Property in the UK is already being scarfed up by foreign investors now that the pound has fallen to 30-year low, but what happens to all the British who own property here in France? They must be thrilled that their property is suddenly worth more in sterling value…but, does that mean they will sell and repatriate their money, leaving France with a glut of British-owned properties for sale? Now that their money is worth so much less, they are sure to make fewer purchases in Europe than they have in their strong history.

Banks lending mortgages for purchases in France may view the British differently — perhaps as risky as they view Americans. Rates may increase for these buyers as a result. In addition, the British will be treated just like Americans when it comes to taxation as France is tougher on non-EU citizens in this respect. Is that what they wanted?

The Guardian discussed seven ways Brexit could damage US interests: economically of course, including currency fluctuations, the transatlantic alliance if other member states follow suit unraveling the EU entirely, corporate investment jeopardizing London’s role as the commercial capital of Europe, “Anglospheric” ideals (a new term for me, meaning Anglo-Saxon legal traditions and principals) and the political upheavals we’ve already seen.

The questions are virtually endless. The BBC has made a very good attempt at answering many of the basic ones in their online article. I make no attempt to answer any of them…as I watch and read the news in total awe and in my own new kind of fear.

If the British are capable of making such a bad decision based on their fears, then are Americans capable of doing the same in the upcoming election thinking a man like Donald Trump can just ‘fix’ what they think is wrong or were told was wrong with the nation? (When in fact, what there is to fix are the values for which he stands. This is, of course, my own personal opinion.)

Meanwhile, I leave the posing and the answering of the questions to the media as I while away the time on the Niçois beach gazing at the blue, blue waters, the bright sun and the tan bodies. All the ills of the day melt away as the suntan lotion sinks in and I am not complaining!

A la prochaine,

 Adrian Leeds in Nice, France

Adrian Leeds
Editor of Parler Nice
The Adrian Leeds Group

(in Nice)

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P.S. FREE FINANCIAL FORUM! Thursday, July 7, 2016. Join us with Brian Dunhill and Jim McEvoy of Cross border Planning, for an in-depth look at how American citizens deal with the ever changing regulatory environment and financial challenges, and take a look at the future of the economyin Europe. Details available on our Conferences & Events page. Be sure to register in advance!

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