The Deed Is Done

A majority of British people have voted for the UK to leave the European Union …

In what had become a very close fought battle of claims and counter claims, the potential result on the day of voting was anyone’s guess. Several polls had put the Leave or Brexit campaign ahead but on the eve of the referendum, another poll had stated that the Remain camp was a few percentage points ahead. For me, waking up on Friday morning to the news that Brexit had won, was both sad and disconcerting.

When I say that the British have vetoed the EU, I’m not being entirely correct. Almost all of England and Wales, excluding London, declared a majority exit vote, but the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland supported remaining in the EU. The country may be known as the United Kingdom but, in reality, it is more divided than ever. Not so long ago, Scotland held a referendum on independence but this was narrowly defeated by its population on the basis of unity. However, now that the same voters have endorsed membership of the EU, it has been announced that a second referendum on possible independence could be held in an attempt for Scotland to rejoin the EU as a separate country. As people will know, Northern Ireland comprises six annexed counties bordering the Republic of Ireland which is, itself, a member of the European Union. With a history of political unrest over the last hundred years, there is a distinct possibility that the two parts of Ireland could once again become one, particularly if being part of the EU is more important to Northern Ireland than to a fragmented United Kingdom.

Previous blogs on the subject have mentioned how the campaign was based largely upon lies and deceit, neither of which are surprising given that it was a political infight. However, whilst claims made by the Remain side were largely endorsed by facts and figures, the Brexit side made sweeping statements, some of which were emblazoned on a campaign bus. One such statement referred to the assumed amount that EU membership cost with a promise that those funds would be redirected to National Health care. It comes as no surprise that such claims are now being vehemently denied by the Brexit victors, clearly illustrating that they have achieved victory by prominent deceit.

Judging by the comments on news and social media, I think the ramifications of the referendum result will be in the headlines for some time to come. The UK has already faced two casualties … the stock market has made unprecedented losses, wiping out billions of pounds in a day and far exceeding EU membership costs, and prime minister David Cameron has resigned, although he will stay in his position until this October. In the event of a Brexit victory, it was almost certain that Cameron would stand down as he put his political career on the line by holding the referendum. He used the promise of the referendum to curry votes in the 2015 General Election and now everything has backfired!

Here are a few of the Brexit claims that won over many voters and the reality of the situation.

  • Nigel Farage effectively promised £350m for the NHS but after the result, appeared on national television countering the claim.
  • Immigration from across the EU was apparently getting out of hand, notably from former Eastern bloc countries. Actually, the crisis stems from war-torn Syria in the Middle East.
  • Foreigners have apparently stolen British jobs. However, without the presence of foreign companies like BMW and Toyota, there would be no jobs. This could soon be the reality as these companies only set up operations in the UK because it was part of the EU. Also, the NHS would be grossly understaffed were it not for immigrants.
  • The Single Market will continue. This is highly unlikely in the long term unless the UK makes a considerable financial contribution. It has been stated that the UK is 60% self sufficient in respect of food requirements. That’s all very well but the remaining 40% will have to be imported, almost certainly at greater cost than currently.
  • People will still enjoy freedom of movement. That is one of the major benefits of EU integration so it’s likely to be withdrawn once the EU exit is finalised. This could have a serious impact upon young people wanting to study in mainland Europe as well as restrict their future employment prospects.

To the diehard supporters of greater Union within Europe, the impending withdrawal by the UK is akin to a divorce or death of a loved one. The country in which I was born is fast becoming unrecognisable with an influx of right wing extremism, increased racism despite more recent levels of acceptance, more xenophobia and division, and power-hungry, super-rich politicians only out for themselves. In truth, I’m no longer proud to say that I’m British and would be quite happy to divorce myself from the country. As an immigrant in another country, I appreciate the acceptance and warmth offered to me, and the attempts local people make to make one feel at home within the community.

By all accounts, the ‘vision’ of the Brexit team is to restore Britain to its old colonial powers, going it alone and swallowing up anything that gets in its way. The likes of Boris Johnson and Nigel Fromage are sadly delusional as the world has moved on. Through the unity of Europe, people have not only enjoyed seventy years of peace but also helped free former oppressed Eastern bloc countries so that their people can now enjoy a life of freedom. The UK will be stepping back at least fifty years in terms of trade once the exit takes effect and the population will undoubtedly face higher costs of living and taxation. The final referendum result was 51.9% in favour of leaving and 48.1% to remain. Demographic statistics show that the vast majority of people under the age of fifty opted to remain but it was the older voters in majority who supported Brexit. This in itself is tragic as they won’t really experience the long term effects that being outside the EU will bring. It’s the younger generation who will pay the price for what I consider has been a selfish vote.

Long live Europe!

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Oh to be in England

A Londoner moves to Scotland …

20 DEC It’s 6pm and starting to snow; the first of the season and the first snowfall seen in years. The wife and I took our hot toddies and sat on the porch, watching the soft flakes drift down from the gloomy sky. It was a beautiful sight watching the flakes cling to the trees and slowly cover the ground.

24 DEC We awoke to a lovely blanket of crystal white snow covering the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Every tree and bush was covered with a beautiful white mantle. I shovelled the snow for the first time and loved it, clearing both the driveway and the pavement. Later a snowplough came along and accidentally covered up our driveway with compact snow from the street. The driver smiled and waved. I waved back and shovelled the snow away again.

26 DEC It snowed an additional 5 inches last night and the temperature dropped to around -8C. Several branches on the trees and bushes snapped due to the weight of the snow. I shovelled our driveway once more. Shortly afterwards, the snowplough came by and did his trick again. Much of the snow is now brownish-grey!

1 JAN Happy New Year! It warmed up enough during the day to create some slush which soon became ice when the temperature dropped again. Went out and bought snow tyres for both our cars. Fell on my arse in the driveway. Paid £100 to a physiotherapist but thankfully nothing was broken. More snow and ice expected.

5 JAN Still cold. Sold the wife’s car and bought her a Land Rover so she could get to work. She slid into a motorway barrier causing a considerable amount of damage to the front wing. Had another 8 inches of the white stuff in the night. Both vehicles are covered in salt and iced-up slush. More shovelling in store for me as the snowplough came by twice during the day.

9 JAN It’s -15C outside. More bloody snow. There’s not a tree or bush on our property that hasn’t been damaged. Power was off most of the night. Tried to keep from freezing to death with candles and a paraffin heater which tipped over and nearly burnt the house down! I managed to put out the flames but suffered second degree burns to my hands and lost all my eyelashes and eyebrows. The car slid on the ice on the way to A&E and was written off.

13 JAN The bloody white stuff keeps coming down! Have to put on all the clothes we own just to get to the post box. If I ever catch the arsehole that drives the bloody snowplough, I’ll chew open his chest and rip out his heart. I think he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling before coming down the street at 100mph and burying our driveway again!!

17 JAN Another 16 inches of bloody snow, sleet, ice and God knows what other kind of white stuff fell last night. I wounded the bloody snowplough driver with an ice axe but he got away. The wife left me. The car won’t start. Think I’m going snow blind. Can’t move my bloody toes. Haven’t seen the sun in weeks. More snow predicted. Temperature -20C … I’m moving back to Clapham!

Home Baking – Bara Brith

Since I posted a photo on Twitpic of a homemade Bara Brith, I’ve had several requests asking exactly what it is…

Bara Brith is the Welsh name for a fruit loaf and literally translates as ‘speckled bread’. It comes either as a yeast bread enriched with dried fruit or something resembling a fruitcake made with self-raising flour and no yeast. The dried fruit should consist of raisins, currants and candied fruit peel.

the finished product

The ‘bread’ is common to all Celtic countries. The Irish call it Barm Brack, the Scottish refer to it as Selkirk Bannock, and in the Brittany region of France, it is known as Morlaix Brioche. It’s also popular in the Patagonian region of Argentina and Chile following the arrival of early Welsh settlers. There it is called Torta Negra or ‘black cake’.

There are many different recipes for this bread, each having some unique quality. Traditionally, Bara Brith is made with yeast but the downside to this is its limited shelf life and is best eaten soon after baking. The version made with self-raising flour can be kept for a long time. Many Welsh recipes favour soaking the fruit in tea overnight before baking.

The recipe that I used originates from North Wales and uses self-raising flour. You will need the following:

INGREDIENTS

330g (14oz) mixed dried fruit
250ml brewed tea
330g (14oz) self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp marmalade
1 egg, lightly beaten
5 tbsp soft brown or golden sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
Honey to glaze

METHOD

sliced and ready to eat!

Soak the fruit overnight in the tea.

Next day, mix the marmalade, beaten egg, sugar, spice, flour and baking powder. Add the fruit and mix well until all ingredients have blended.

Place the mixture into a well greased 900g loaf tin.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160°C (320°F or gas mark 3) for 105 minutes or until the centre is cooked through. Check from time to time that the top doesn’t brown too much, and if necessary, cover with foil.

Once cooked, leave the Bara Brith to stand for 5 mins, then tip out of the tin on to a baking tray to cool. Using a pastry brush, glaze the top with honey.

Serve sliced with butter. It is also tasty with strong farmhouse Cheddar cheese. Store in an airtight container.