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British Expat Newsletter: January 2019

Hello, a belated Happy New Year, and welcome to those of you who have recently signed up.

In this issue

This month

Guess what? After nearly two months of Parliamentary shenanigans, we’re still no further forward on Brexit.

It’s made for gripping viewing/listening/reading (however you receive your news updates) at times. The pinnacle of high drama was reached on the evening of 15 January, when the result of the postponed House of Commons vote on the Brexit deal was announced – 202 votes for, 432 against: the biggest defeat ever for a contested Government motion. The net result? Five weeks’ delay in coming up with a properly negotiated Brexit (to the unconcealed dismay of the other 27 EU Member States), and no further forward on the UK’s domestic political stalemate. And Plan B – rushed out in just three working days by the Government to meet the constraints placed on it by an increasingly irritated Parliament – looked just like Plan A. As Jeremy Corbyn put it in one of his wittier Commons moments, it was “Groundhog May”.

So Britain remains… in a constitutional crisis of its own making. Some of the proposed solutions have been predictable. Remainers (and some Leavers) have been calling for a second referendum or “People’s Vote”, on the basis that people didn’t know what they were voting for in the first referendum. They have a point, in that the Leave camp had no single plan on how we were going to leave the EU. On the other hand, a second referendum leaves the door open to a “neverendum”, similar to the repeated votes in Quebec for independence from Canada. And although technically the original Brexit referendum wasn’t legally binding on the government, it did pledge to abide by the result – so it’s not surprising if Leavers suspect a second referendum is simply a means to deny them the outcome of the first.

At the other end of the scale, the more rabid Brexiteers have advocated the “do nothing” option, allowing a hard Brexit and trading on the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) “most favoured nation” (MFN) terms. This sounds great, until you realise that MFN just means that WTO members are obliged to impose tariffs on products at a uniform rate for all other WTO members, except if there’s a bilateral or multilateral free trade agreement that specifies a lower or zero rate. The UK won’t have any free trade agreements on Brexit Day, and all but 11% of its current trade happens either through the EU Single Market or under the EU’s free trade agreements with third countries. So that’s a whopping 89% of our trade that will suddenly be subject to tariffs.

So much for the predictable solutions. A more imaginative one, given the deadlock in Parliament, is to use a Citizen’s Assembly – a representative body of people drawn from across the UK’s population to consider a single issue (in this case, Brexit) and come up with a solution. A similar Citizen’s Assembly in Ireland led to the proposal for a referendum on repealing Ireland’s constitutional ban on abortion. But it does prompt the inevitable question why we bother to elect MPs.

And then there’s the complete fantasy solution put forward by Victorian poseur Jacob Rees-Mogg – if Parliament continues to have the temerity to try to take decisions about our country’s future rather than getting on with Brexit, the Government should have the Queen prorogue Parliament – “killing” all draft legislation under discussion. Quite bizarre from someone who’s argued that Brexit is about Parliament taking back control over lawmaking.

Meanwhile… tick, tock.

Our first Quick Quiz of 2019 whisks you off to South East Asia, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Communist since the mid-1970s, this former French colony has made quiet but steady progress over the last two decades to become Indo-China’s fourth most prosperous economy. But what else do you know about Laos?

And our latest Pic of the Week is also from Laos: the Nam Song river at Vang Vieng.

Are you ever flummoxed by fancy foodie words, mystified by menus, or confused by culinary terms? Then head on over to and become enlightened by our quirky A-Z of food. And it’s got cartoons in it! Don’t forget to tell all your friends about it too.

Write for British Expat

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Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes—five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping—from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

British Expat—the definitive home for British expats

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