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British Expat Newsletter: May 2017

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In this issue

This month

Well, here we are a month later, and the election campaign trundles on to its apparently inevitable conclusion. Despite a lacklustre and heavily choreographed campaign, in which her core message of strength and stability was laughably undermined in a humiliating U-turn over the so-called dementia tax, Theresa May still appears on track to win the election. And we use those words advisedly – May’s campaign has stressed her personality and downplayed the Conservative Party throughout. The manifesto is remarkably thin on detail on many of the core issues, such as where the £8bn increase in NHS funding will be found. May herself has avoided facing the electorate, preferring stage-managed events in front of loyal Party supporters, and drip-feeding the constant message that only she offers the strong leadership needed for the Brexit negotiations, where Jeremy Corbyn offers nothing more than a coalition of chaos.

So what of said Corbyn? He’s actually had a better campaign than most were expecting, appearing relaxed and willing to accept that he won’t necessarily get all his own way when it comes to framing government policy. His decision – albeit at the last minute – to join the BBC‘s leaders’ debate on 31 May leaves Theresa May looking all the more isolated in her refusal to be engaged on her policies. But, predictably, his past over Northern Ireland has returned to haunt him somewhat, as has his opposition to nuclear weapons – though neither so much as his staunch ally, Diane Abbott, whose shaky grasp of detail has left her looking amateurish and not fit for government.

Meanwhile the other parties have been largely sidelined nationally, though the debate in Scotland over when Indyref2 might be held has livened things up a little. The SNP have been keen to portray the election as a two-horse race between themselves and the Tories, hoping to retain the vote from disaffected Labourites and Lib Dems that saw them win all but three of Scotland’s 59 seats back in 2015. They’re unlikely to repeat that particular success. And UKIP have been very quiet, with the most commonly held view being that they’ve won their fight and their reason for existence has vanished.

As for Brexit, a report from the Nuffield Trust suggests that a dealless exit could result in an increased burden on the NHS of £1bn annually, as expats return from the EU for treatment after they lose access to the reciprocal S1 scheme that currently gives them the same access to local health facilities as the citizens of their host country. Of course, this won’t be a problem if the promised £350m a week materialises…

Oh well, at least the sun’s shining. We’re off across the Channel for a booze and baccy run soon, while we still can. It’s taken surprisingly little organisation and funding to make it happen. One thing we did have to do, though, was buy a whole bunch of extra stuff to carry in the car. Some of it was fair enough, like a fire extinguisher, a first aid kit and a warning triangle. But a breathalyser? Read our article to see why we won’t be carrying one, on this journey at least.

Our Pic of the Week, by frequent contributor Volha Kavalenkava, is of an unusual view of Venice – instead of the well-worn shot of the Piazza San Marco, she’s taken her camera up the campanile to show the view looking out across the mouth of the Grand Canal towards the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute.

And our Quick Quiz celebrates Britain’s great inventors, famed almost as much for their eccentricity as for their ingenuity. How much do you know about what they got up to in their spare time? Have a go!

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Till next time…

Happy surfing!

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