Been on the edge all week!


What don’t I think (about Brexit)?

It’s been a strange week or two; for some reason I’ve found myself in Westminster a lot, lobbying on behalf of scam victims, discussing the “net-pay anomaly”, listening to the Pensions Minister on open banking and open pensions and just riding my bike past on my way to meetings in Victoria and beyond.

I feel on the edge of something very big which everyone else knows about but me. The big thing is of course BREXIT and the reason everyone else knows about it (but not me) is that it scares me rigid.

What scares me is trying to think through the 500 pages of thoughtfulness that went into the draft agreement. My friend Con Keating who has read it tells me that the “City” section has eight pages devoted to it – fishing one more. He was surprised that there is so little in the agreement for the City – but -heh- you can get a lot in eight pages.

I absolutely refuse to engage.

My partner Stella has strong views, she’s a “let’s get out and bugger the consequences” type of working class girl – unreconstructed.

Most of my friends are remainers, as I should be, I was brought up a Liberal and still go to the Liberal Club. For a long time – being a Liberal was about loving being a European when everyone else didn’t.

Any reasonable middle class Englishman in his mid to late fifties ought to be a remainer – or so I’m told.

And yet I remain on the edge of politics and semi-detached from the arguments. I admire Mrs May for just getting on with it and taking the strain so that people like me can carry on riding a bike past Westminster without being hit by a rock!

What do I think?

It is almost impossible not to have to think about Briexit, whether its on the TV or on my bike or in a meeting, there’s always something thinking or shouting or discussing Brexit when you want to be getting on with something else.

I do think we are wasting colossal amounts of time discussing things that are beyond our reach. When we voted in the referendum (shamefully I can’t remember what I voted), we  voted blind and I think that most of our chatter is blind. Those 500 pages don’t mean anything to me because whatever happens, is beyond my control. This is something that is happening to me- I don’t like it – but shit happens. At least it’s not war.

I do think that those people who are taking on jobs and then resigning from them are hapless. “There are only four more Brexit Ministers to Christmas” is my favorite Brexit joke.

I do think that – May apart – there is nobody ‘seems to be’ coming out of all this with much dignity.

I don’t understand why someone who’s job it is to oversee Universal Credit and Pensions should resign from her job over our negotiations over leaving Europe. I don’t get how that helps the people who she was supposed to be helping, but there have been so many politicians who have said they want to make a difference to those on benefits, I am beginning to wonder if the “benefits” pertain only to them.

Now we have a petition of 48 people wanting to get rid of Mrs May, most of whom appear to be serial troublemakers.

What possible good would it be to sack the manager at this stage? If we are going down, let’s have the captain leave the ship last- let’s not kick her into the waves out of puerile vengeance.

If – as seems very likely – we don’t get the BREXIT we wanted, let’s remember that we spent the first two years of our negotiations arguing with each other, while the other lot got on with planning their position and building such a strong defence for it, that by the time we turned up – we’d just about lost.

I think we’re getting what we deserve, in the arm-wrestle, we’re looking very wobbly and we should be prepared to accept if not absolute defeat – partial defeat.

If you think that anyone wins out of divorce, think again. Nobody in Europe thinks they’re winning either, they didn’t want us to go.

No-one wins in a divorce, but sometimes  (and this is the argument for BREXIT) the price of staying together is too awful.

Uninformed comment?

Usually, when I sit down to write a blog- it is with a certainty of my position. I wrote this blog to try and make sense of where I stood. 767 words later and I don’t think I’m much further.

I hope that my floundering position with regards these things – finds some sympathy with you.

We are all at sea – all out of our depth- all hoping that we aren’t heading for an iceberg and we’re all rather worried for the skipper.

As I ride to or past Westminster , I have to navigate a number of concrete blocks and barriers put in to stop terrorist destroying democracy. I smile to think that those terrorists are currently redundant. We’re doing a pretty good job of destroying democracy without them.

Let’s hope that at some point – however far beyond March 29th 2019 it is, we can understand the issues of sovereignty , of trade and travel and immigration, with a degree of certainty.

I would like to comment in an informed way. I am tired of being on the outside of somebody else’s argument – especially when that argument is about me!

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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5 Responses to Been on the edge all week!

  1. Nick Reid says:

    Well said Henry – an enjoyable read and I think many of us share your same thoughts, a far more interesting and concise summary than this morning’s Telegraph too 👍😂

  2. John Mather says:

    Henry it’s quite simple. Brexit is a box with a label on it that no one has opened, we are now promised if we go with the compromise we will get another box but others will decide when we can open it.

    The uncertainty has produced ExBrit as the certain action that the individual can take it has left our NHS without nurses and doctors and the wealthy, already suffering from the non Dom and ATED assault, changing to one of their other homes to escape the falling pound the rising inflation and the feeling that it is 1937 (“Draining the swamp”is a requote from Mussolini)

    I am reminded of the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat it seems that if you don’t know where you are going that anywhere will do. Stick to the good work you are doing on AgeWage, something you can make a meaningful difference with.

  3. henry tapper says:

    John – that’s very good advice!

  4. Mike says:

    Stella might like this Henry
    Former Australian PM Tony Abbott…

    “It’s pretty hard for Britain’s friends, here in Australia, to make sense of the mess that’s being made of Brexit. The referendum result was perhaps the biggest-ever vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, its past and its future. But the British establishment doesn’t seem to share that confidence and instead looks desperate to cut a deal, even if that means staying under the rule of Brussels. Looking at this from abroad, it’s baffling: the country that did the most to bring democracy into the modern world might yet throw away the chance to take charge of its own destiny.

    Let’s get one thing straight: a negotiation that you’re not prepared to walk away from is not a negotiation — it’s surrender. It’s all give and no get. When David Cameron tried to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership, he was sent packing because Brussels judged (rightly) that he’d never actually back leaving. And since then, Brussels has made no real concessions to Theresa May because it judges (rightly, it seems) that she’s desperate for whatever deal she can get.

    The EU’s palpable desire to punish Britain for leaving vindicates the Brexit project. Its position, now, is that there’s only one ‘deal’ on offer, whereby the UK retains all of the burdens of EU membership but with no say in setting the rules. The EU seems to think that Britain will go along with this because it’s terrified of no deal. Or, to put it another way, terrified of the prospect of its own independence.

    But even after two years of fearmongering and vacillation, it’s not too late for robust leadership to deliver the Brexit that people voted for. It’s time for Britain to announce what it will do if the EU can’t make an acceptable offer by March 29 next year — and how it would handle no deal. Freed from EU rules, Britain would automatically revert to world trade, using rules agreed by the World Trade Organization. It works pretty well for Australia. So why on earth would it not work just as well for the world’s fifth-largest economy?

    A world trade Brexit lets Britain set its own rules. It can say, right now, that it will not impose any tariff or quota on European produce and would recognise all EU product standards. That means no border controls for goods coming from Europe to Britain. You don’t need to negotiate this: just do it. If Europe knows what’s in its own best interests, it would fully reciprocate in order to maintain entirely free trade and full mutual recognition of standards right across Europe.

    Next, the UK should declare that Europeans already living here should have the right to remain permanently — and, of course, become British citizens if they wish. This should be a unilateral offer. Again, you don’t need a deal. You don’t need Michel Barnier’s permission. If Europe knows what’s best for itself, it would likewise allow Britons to stay where they are.

    Third, there should continue to be free movement of people from Europe into Britain — but with a few conditions. Only for work, not welfare. And with a foreign worker’s tax on the employer, to make sure anyone coming in would not be displacing British workers.

    Fourth, no ‘divorce bill’ whatsoever should be paid to Brussels. The UK government would assume the EU’s property and liabilities in Britain, and the EU would assume Britain’s share of these in Europe. If Britain was getting its fair share, these would balance out; and if Britain wasn’t getting its fair share, it’s the EU that should be paying Britain.

    Finally, there’s no need on Britain’s part for a hard border with Ireland. Britain wouldn’t be imposing tariffs on European goods, so there’s no money to collect. The UK has exactly the same product standards as the Republic, so let’s not pretend you need to check for problems we all know don’t exist. Some changes may be needed but technology allows for smart borders: there was never any need for a Cold War-style Checkpoint Charlie. Irish citizens, of course, have the right to live and work in the UK in an agreement that long predates EU membership.

    Of course, the EU might not like this British leap for independence. It might hit out with tariffs and impose burdens on Britain as it does on the US — but WTO rules put a cap on any retaliatory action. The worst it can get? We’re talking levies of an average 4 or 5 per cent. Which would be more than offset by a post-Brexit devaluation of the pound (which would have the added bonus of making British goods more competitive everywhere).

    UK officialdom assumes that a deal is vital, which is why so little thought has been put into how Britain might just walk away. Instead, officials have concocted lurid scenarios featuring runs on the pound, gridlock at ports, grounded aircraft, hoarding of medicines and flights of investment. It’s been the pre-referendum Project Fear campaign on steroids. And let’s not forget how employment, investment and economic growth ticked up after the referendum.

    As a former prime minister of Australia and a lifelong friend of your country, I would say this: Britain has nothing to lose except the shackles that the EU imposes on it. After the courage shown by its citizens in the referendum, it would be a tragedy if political leaders go wobbly now. Britain’s future has always been global, rather than just with Europe. Like so many of Britain’s admirers, I want to see this great country seize this chance and make the most of it.”

    Tony Abbott served as Prime Minister of Australia from 2013 to 2015

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