Brexit Musings (23) – “La Maison De Monsieur Lawson”

It’s nearly two years since the UK Referendum on EU membership, and I’m not going to moan about it, like a lot of people will do, to mark the second anniversary of the Brexit vote. Others will do it much better than me.

Such a shame though, the Brexit vote, but what is done, is done. “Inshallah,” as they say in Paris. We must all make the best of it, whilst continuing to fight and to write, until Brexit is officially upon us… and beyond.

There is something, though, that I will moan about. It represents a despicable trait of human nature called, “hypocrisy”. The Merriam-Webster’s definition of hypocrisy is as follows,

A feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel. 

There was a lot of it about, during the referendum campaign, and it still clings onto the Brexit flag, rather like a stubborn coffee stain.

Nigel Lawson, a former bigwig of the Vote Leave campaign, is to apply for his official French residency card. Getting worried, are we? Well, Nigel – first, it’s called a “Carte de Séjour” and second, it wasn’t really necessary for EU citizens to have one, until your lot decided to put your big hands in the ballot box. But thanks to you and your friends, a lot of us will need much more than a residency card, to continue “residencing” in tropical Latvia.

The UK may be accused of cherry-picking its way out of the EU, but Lawson’s application does take the biscuit, because if it isn’t hypocrisy, it sure as hell looks like it. And don’t tell me that loving France is compatible with hating the EU, because in saying so, you are forgetting one thing – namely, Nigel Lawson is a Brit loving France, and living there, as free as a bird. What is more, if you want to, you can move to another member state, before your cat can grab the goldfish and say “petit poisson” (little fish). And that, like it or not, is one of the pillars of the EU. It even has a name – “freedom of movement”

There may be a few bureaucratic hoops to be gone through, which are tiresome, but I don’t think it’s a serious problem. – Nigel Lawson, 2018

If he is right in describing the upcoming extra bureaucracy as, “tiresome”, I would expect that most of us will be more than irritated, by the time everything is sorted out. I, for one, can vouch that the only thing that helps me keep calm during the slanging match between London and Brussels, is my French passport.

For Nigel Lawson, the EU has served its purpose. At the ripe old age of 84, I do suppose that he’s well placed to know when something has passed its sell-by date. Inspiring myself on a brilliant comment written by a disillusioned but lucid Facebook user, who mentions a few lesser-known facts about the EU, I ask the following,

Apart from,

minority language support, aid to less favoured regions impacted by deindustrialisation, environmental standards and protections, consumer standards and protections, legal protections and the right to appeals of last resort, scientific research and cooperation, aviation safety, nuclear and radioactive materials standards and regulations including storage and transport, pharmaceutical research and development, logistical support for the supply of medicines for human and animal health, veterinary coordination and support, enforcement of legal protections for animals domestic and wild, international law enforcement coordination including the European Arrest Warrant…not to forget dispute negotiation and resolution…

What has the EU ever done for us?

Well, the EU has also kept the peace for 60 years, and has shut the Germans up, for just as long – even if they are taking over the euro. That has got to be worth a few EU regulations concerning the size and shape of bananas which, if my information is correct, the UK doesn’t produce, in the first place.

The main reason why Nigel Lawson hates the EU, is a conviction he and others have, that it is a totally undemocratic set-up. In 2013, participating in an Oxford Union debate (an institution that has lost all sense of time, it seems) he proclaimed that, “the unelected establishment, at the heart of the European Union, has a profound contempt for public opinion.”

If I force myself, I can understand why, once upon a time, plain-old Nigel Lawson was so infuriated by the democratic shortcomings of the EU. Yes, the EU is not perfect. It started out as a cumbersome creature, to develop into a huge dinosaur that spends all its energy to keep itself warm, and nothing else. But today, he is Lord Lawson of Blaby, who commutes weekly from “La France Profonde” (deep France) to attend the House of Lords – an unelected establishment, if ever I saw one. You could nearly describe him as a “frontier worker”, the very people who are the most at risk from the effects of a Brexit without agreement.

During his long journeys, between Westminster and the Gers region of France, maybe Lord Lawson should reflect on what he is doing, and spare a thought for all those people he is affecting. He has plenty of time, whilst waiting for the delayed Easy Jet flight to Toulouse. One has, of course, a right to criticize the EU, but it cannot entail the complete rejection of an institution that has given millions of individuals unprecedented freedom and a real feeling of being European.

Nigel Lawson’s views on the EU are in line with his views on many other matters that are of importance to us all. Here is a man who does not deny climate change, but who advises humanity not to do anything about it, until it actually happens. His debonair attitude is quite remarkable, whether for his French residence permit, Brexit, or climate change. For Brexit, it’s probably a case of, “let it happen, and we’ll deal with it then.” 

There’s a French citation that says, “Tout s’arrange dans la vie, mais mal,” – Everything in life works out, but badly. For Nigel Lawson, it doesn’t really matter how things work out. Concerning Brexit, the worst that can happen, is that he remains confined to his “maison de campagne” (country house), surrounded by the Gers countryside. As for climate change, he is too advanced in years, to care about something that will probably not affect him. It’s up to the rest of us to do the worrying in his place, on both counts. How tiresome…