Sunday, 3 July 2016


I don't usually talk politics here. This isn't the place for it. However as a Overseas Territory, colony or whatever else you care to call it, when the English tore up their passports, they tore up mine too, and I didn't get the admittedly small consolation of voting in the referendum. So it's been on my mind.

I deliberately use the word English, by the way. It sure as hell wasn't the United Kingdom that voted Leave. Though to be absolutely fair the Welsh also had their hands in this decision, bad cess to 'em.

Assuming Brexit goes ahead as planned, it's a good bet that the United Kingdom will cease to exist shortly thereafter, probably within ten years. So a child born today may only know the United Kingdom as a fading memory, like old episodes of Looney Tunes or Trapdoor.

Scotland will go, for a start. God alone knows what will happen to Northern Ireland; there's a certain logic in rejoining the rest of Ireland, but that's not a logic I expect anyone to actually adopt, for reasons which ought to be obvious. Wales will probably go as well, not because it's annoyed by the result but because the Welsh know opportunity when they see it. Though what happens after the door shuts behind them is anyone's guess.

But let's talk about the Crown Dependencies for a moment, places like Sark, the Isle of Man, Guernsey, Jersey; and also the Overseas Territories, which is a slightly longer list that includes Bermuda.

If you think we're sticking around, you're off your bloody head.

I can only speak for Bermuda, but I'm pretty sure that the question of Independence has arisen time and again for each of those Dependencies and Territories. In most cases I suspect it was a very short discussion. Small countries do not do well on the larger international stage. We need someone to speak for us, and so long as the United Kingdom remained a strong, reliable force, there was never any reason to take Independence seriously.

Well, there's reason enough now.

Don't be fooled by the Little Britain attitude that places like Gibraltar adopt. Small nations have a very finely tuned sense of self preservation; we can jump ship in a heartbeat. Gibraltar, for example, has Spain. Yes, the Gibraltarians are loath to accept Spain as their savior - very, very loath, as shown in the 2002 referendum -  but they'll eat tapas and like it if their only other option is leaving the EU. Though I note that they'd rather eat haggis, if given the opportunity. They say No now. Give them a taste of financial decline post-Brexit, and they'll say Maybe. Once they say Maybe, Yes is only a few more hard years away.

Tears will be shed, I don't doubt. Tears cost nothing, and dry quickly.

Now, Bermuda's relationship with the EU has always been more theoretic than practical. I've often wondered why, for example, there've never been EU challenges to our Immigration laws. I'd have thought that, given our relationship with the EU via the UK and given that freedom of movement for workers is such a cornerstone of the relationship, someone would have tried to argue by now that our fairly strict Immigration laws were trumped by EU membership. Yet the challenge never happened.

But that's a relatively minor drop in the ocean. Fact is, we've never had to think about Europe, really. For the average citizen it's somewhere we can't really afford to visit on holiday very often, and besides, the flight's hours and hours. That said, I've just spent the last few weeks performing Shakespeare with a would-be student who's down in the dumps because her preferred choice of university is probably off the menu now. So take that for what it's worth.

For the businessman Europe is more of an issue, but even then our attention's usually focused on North America, mainly because of geography and shared history. Not all of it creditable on our side; we sold cotton and guns in the Civil War, and booze during Prohibition, for a start. But shared history nonetheless, and besides, there's a reason why the motto's Whither the Fates Carry Us. We know full well that the best way to get along is to shape our course to the prevailing wind, particularly if there's money to be made.

So here's my prediction, for what it's worth. If Brexit goes ahead, and if it's as nasty as expected, then Bermuda will go independent within the decade. We may not care about Europe but the one argument against independence which always succeeded was that having a strong partner on the world stage was more important. If England drops rapidly into political chaos and financial turmoil, that argument no longer applies.

What happens after that is murky. We'd do well not to tie ourselves to Uncle Sam, but that's the more likely scenario. In my ideal over-the-rainbow wishful thinking we'd somehow get back into Europe, perhaps via Scotland. God alone knows how. There's a reason why it's called wishful thinking.

Independence is not something I ever thought would happen, but then I never thought the United Kingdom would implode. Yet here we are.

Sorry for being a downer this time out, but I needed to say that. It's been brewing ever since the referendum.

Normal service will resume next post.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I voted to remain and I'm shocked by the result and terrified by what may come next. It's such a mess and I'm not at all clear what the benefit is supposed to be.