I have recently changed the name of my site from ‘Copper Turns Artisan’ to ‘Paul the Europhile’. The reason for this change is my love Jill. She inspired me to change the direction of my ramblings here from a diary that reflected on my transition from retirement to a new lifestyle, to a blog that outlines my reasons for leaving the UK and the impact that living in France and mainland Europe has on my emotional, physical and mental well-being.
As I sit here in our study in wintery Northamptonshire I am longing to be in France starting to update and develop our newly purchased French home with Jill. Our aim, within the next 2 years is to move to France full time and leave behind a country that has been my home for over 50 years. Why?
The reasons for leaving the U.K. are many. Some of it is about being able to live our dream of owning and running a small-holding. Finding space, tranquility and big skies. Meeting new people. Having new experiences. Some of it is about the slow collapse of the country that I once loved. Over the past 10 years I have seen seen successive governments dismantle, either deliberately or by incompetence, much of what I loved about the U.K.
They entered us into unlawful, destructive wars on the coattails of the USA. They fiddled their finances and expenses, whilst moaning about voter apathy. They disrespected the talent and commitment of those that worked in the public sector, through under-funding, unnecessary inspection regimes and for policing introduced a wasteful political system based on US models that had no evidence base of being successful.
To top it all David Cameron then rushed into a poorly conceived referendum on the U.K’s membership of the European Union, in order to try to lance a boil that had been festering in the Conservative party for over 40 years. How can you have a referendum that could potentially make such an enormous change to the UK on a simple 51% in favour of leaving equation? Surely 67% was the correct ‘leave target’ to enforce a such a fundamental change? To add to this monumental blunder the ‘Remain’ campaign was then run lazily. They repeatedly failed to highlight all the positives of being in Europe; peace, wealth, trade, human rights, cultural exchange, intellectual advancements and creating of a place in the World that would strive for the aforementioned. Political ‘Remainers’ also failed to recognise the Leave campaigns’ appeal to those who had felt ignored by politicians in the past. Then the Leave campaign just LIED. Furthermore nobody explained the complexity of leaving. It truly was a Referen-DUM!
I voted to stay.
This vote was based on my love of the European people, the fact that we have had peace for 70 years and the other positives I have listed above. Whenever I have visited countries in Europe, for work or pleasure, I have found the people familiar, friendly, welcoming. I find the European mainland like England, but slightly different. I suppose the reason mainland Europe appeals to me as a place to live are a combination of these comforting similarities as well as the beautiful differences.
As a committed ‘Remainian’ I am angry. All that I read and hear about Brexit makes me incensed and agonised. But there is little I can do. I do not really know how to protest and I know we must move on. I am sensible enough to know we must secure our future as a country (however bad). Fatefully I now cannot see the decision ever being reversed, even though the U.K. appears to be totally divided and is jumping off a cliff like a colony of lemmings.
On 8th December the cobbled-together minority Tory administration (I cannot bring myself to call it a ‘Government’), lead by the metronomic, once committed Remainer, Theresa May brokered a deal to allow the next stage of exit negotiations. Fortunately this deal does appear to protect the rights of E.U. citizens living in the U.K, together-with U.K. citizens living, working and studying in Europe. It also leaves people protected by the European Court of Justice for the next decade. Thank goodness. I would not trust politicians and the British justice system to look after us!
So I need to rest my disturbed, concerned and angry brain. I too need to move on. France provides that opportunity. The U.K. is crowded, noisy, polluted, fast-paced, congested and badly let down by its politicians.
France has similar problems with its political elite but I view it as a country that has space, greenery, open roads, fresh air, big skies, a different culture and fewer people. Simply I believe it is a place where I can re-energise and re-boot myself. And I have a best friend and lover to share it with…….