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Brexit – What’s the big deal?

Brexit is arguably the U.K’s biggest political event of our generation – its ripples continue to shake, and the nation is more divided over it than it has been over anything in decades.

So: is Brexit really such a big deal? This article will attempt to unpack that question.

What is Brexit?

Brexit is the motion for Britain to leave the European Union (E.U).

When the British electorate voted in the 2016 referendum, the result shocked the world of politics – not so dissimilarly to Donald Trump’s election as U.S. President.

From over 33 million voters (a 72% turnout), those who voted to ‘Leave’ made up 52% of the vote; whereas those who voted to ‘Remain’ amassed 48% of the vote.

Due to such fine margins, the referendum has not ended the debate – not by a long shot. Here in Britain it is virtually impossible to go anywhere without overhearing a conversation, or glimpsing some headline about Brexit.

And, 3 years on from the referendum, Brexit has still not been implemented.

There are a number of reasons for this – such as the refusal of so-called ‘Remainers’ to accept the result. (https://www.bollockstobrexit.com/ )

Furthermore, U.K Parliament – equally as divided as the population – hasn’t managed to agree on how to implement Brexit.

Parliamentary conflicts triggered Theresa May – a Remainer prior to the referendum – to resign as Prime Minister. (https://www.ft.com/content/082d16f8-7dfd-11e9-81d2-f785092ab560)

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What’s Happening Now?

Disputes as to whether or not the majority of the population is still in favour of Brexit are ongoing.

There is a claim that, leading up to the referendum, the Pro-Leave campaign lied to the electorate – Boris Johnson, Conservative MP, has been summoned to court to answer for those claims. (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/may/29/boris-johnson-appear-court-eu-referendum-misconduct-claims )

However, there are examples of lies from both campaigns – and in this era of ‘post-truth’, where the authority of ‘facts’ is open to interpretation, it seems unlikely that Johnson will be prosecuted.

In another display of post-truth, the U.K’s results in last week’s European Parliament Elections imply different things depending on who you listen to.

Remainers argue that clearly Pro-Remain parties collectively outperformed the Pro-Leave parties clearly in favour of a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ (leaving the E.U with or without an E.U trade deal). Remainers, therefore, believe there is a mandate for a second referendum, where the electorate will have an opportunity to change its mind. (https://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2019/05/27/european-elections-remain-triumphant )

But Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, dismissed these claims as ‘absolute tosh’. He, along with the other ‘Leavers’, point out that 75% of activists in the Conservative Party (currently in government) are Pro-Leave, and taking their numbers into account proves that the appetite for Brexit still exists.

Judging the true message of these results is challenging; but the country is certainly still divided.

What will happen next?

Following Theresa May’s failure to deliver Brexit, pro-Leave candidates are dominating the race to replace her as Prime Minister (the current favourite is Boris Johnson). https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/next-prime-minister-uk-odds-candidates-boris-johnson/

It seems likely, then, that Brexit will finally go ahead on the 31st October – with or without a deal.

Will the U.K be better off?

It’s hard to say for sure whether or not the U.K will be better off.

‘Euroscepticism’ (anti-E.U feeling) is not only present in the U.K – it is spread all across Europe.

Euroscepticism also transcends the traditional politics of ‘left and right’ – the pro-Leave Brexit Party, as well as the pro-Remain Change UK, are made up of former supporters and members from both the Conservative and Labour parties.

Here are some basic arguments to LEAVE:

  • The E.U is undemocratic and adds a needless layer of bureaucracy.
  • Freedom of movement encourages immigration, adding strains to services like the NHS.
  • It has treated member states badly when in economic crisis (particularly Greece).
  • Industries, including the fishing industry, have suffered.
  • Calls for a ‘United States of Europe’ and a European army possess a dystopian flavour.

And here are some basic arguments to REMAIN:

  • The E.U has succeeded in keeping peace between European countries.
  • Global issues can’t be tackled without cooperative organisations such as the E.U.
  • The E.U provides checks and balances, preventing governments from getting too powerful.
  • Some supporters actually prefer E.U politics to their own national politics.
  • Freedom of movement is a two-ended stick, providing opportunity and improving economy.

There are counterarguments to the arguments from both sides of the debate, and it seems unlikely that either side will convince their opposition any time soon.

Nobody truly knows if the U.K will be better off or not.

So what’s the big deal?

From a democratic standpoint the referendum has been won, so Brexit simply must go ahead.

But the debate won’t go away.

Brexit is a topic which people have identified with far more than they ever identified with the traditional ‘left vs. right’ politics – and when Brexit is finally delivered, it is likely that the debate will still be relevant.

And that’s the big deal. Brexit engages people.

It may seem obvious that the U.K has more pressing concerns than E.U membership – like poverty, the environment, and its own government’s flaws (which will still exist after Brexit).

Still – for better or worse – that will all have to wait.

A British girl moves to Barbados

In 2009, I took the bold step to move to Barbados after dreaming about it for years, and driving my friend’s crazy with my procrastination and excuses for not going.

You may ask what made me decide upon such a bold step; after all a holiday is one thing, but to live! My decision was made due to the cold. I wish it was something more romantic, but that’s for another time. Truth be told, I didn’t want to experience feeling SAD (season affective disorder) each winter and coming home from work when it was dark and damp. It made me depressed and it was getting worse. So, procrastination over, I made a plan, as it wasn’t a case (pardon the pun) of packing a suitcase, saying bye to my job and buying a one-way ticket to paradise. I’m adventurous, but a plan gives direction.

So, what did I do?

First, I built my savings as the cost of living in Barbados isn’t cheap and I had no idea of how soon I would secure work. I also told my family living in Barbados what I’d decided. Their reaction wasn’t what I’d hope. “Gail are you crazy? Barbados is a small island for a city girl like you. Wait a few more years (like when you’re about to retire) and then come.” However, no amount of dissuasion could deter me. Once they realized I was serious, my grandparents said I could stay with them, which meant I’d be able to save on rent until I got myself established with work.

With savings accumulated, I 

took flight. Upon arrival in Barbados, the first thing to hit me was the heat, had it always been this hot? I mean it was hotter than a volcano. In the past I’d always come as a tourist and loved the heat as a welcome change from the dreaded cold. Now I had to acclimatize.

I was fortunate to secure temporary work at a secondary school as secretary to the principal, and as my mother is Barbadian born, I was able to gain my citizenship through being a descendent, (thanks mom).

Eventually, I got used to the way of life with its slower pace, and less stress. Plus, the beaches were of course a bonus. I thought making friends would be hard, but it was actually quite easy. This was in part due to my philosophy of “when in Rome, do as the Romans.” I adapted and made myself fit in with the culture.

Today, the UK is just eight hours away and I fly back when I can. I’ve met some great Brits and we reminisce over a rum and coke (Barbados is famous for its rum), about how we miss fish & chips and pie and mash.

Barbados is truly the “Gem of the Caribbean” and I haven’t regretted my decision to live here.

My advice to anyone contemplating living abroad even for a short time is:

  • Plan and save.
  • Before the big move, visit the place and imagine it as home.
  • Allow time for a period of adjustment.
  • Don’t be a tourist. Immerse yourself in the culture.
  • Do it. Life is too short to live with regrets.

Why you should make Bermuda your next travel destination

Bermuda is a tiny island paradise located in the north atlantic ocean closer to the outer regions of North Carolina and near the north-east of Miami, Florida — or more famously north of the Bermuda Triangle. This British overseas territory is home to only roughly 65,000 people, and while it is viewed as a single country, it actually consists of 181 small islands, with two main areas being St George’s and the capital Hamilton. Bermuda was discovered in 1508 by a Spanish explorer, Juan de Bermudez.

Bermuda is often confused with Barbuda, which is a part of Antigua and Barbuda in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. During Hurricane Irma, the island of Barbuda was completely ruined and almost all the residents evacuated. Many people who were unaware of the difference and kept confusing the two islands, though they are completely different and miles apart. This makes sense why Bermuda, which depends heavily on tourism, has boosted their tourism efforts by use of an ad campaign and a deal with Air Canada. Travellers can save 20 per cent if they book a flight by Dec 12 2017. If you are willing to take advantage of this deal, here are five things Women’s Post suggest you do in Bermuda

Horseshoe Bay Beach

One of the most popular places to go in Bermuda is Horseshoe Bay beach, known for its pinkish and smooth sand in juxtaposition to bright blue crystal waters. As the name suggests, this beach has a curved stretch similar to a horseshoe. It is located in the parish of Southampton and is one of the hottest tourist spots.

Crystal Caves

if you’re in the mood for exploring caves lined with heart stopping stalactite formations that look like droplets of crystals, Crystal Cave is the place to go. Travel underground to admire the natural beauty of these crystal straws. The formations are delicate and it’s a rare occurrence where water seeps through the cracks in rocks. The water, when combined with minerals overtime, hardens as each droplet expands. The result is the stunning clusters of natural crystal chandeliers hovering above light blue waters. The Crystal Caves are referred to as Bermuda’s true hidden treasure.

Gibbs Hill Lighthouse

Build in 1844, this lighthouse is one of the first in the world to be made with cast iron. It takes 185 steps to get to the top. This lighthouse was originally operated by the British army. The stunning structure stand 245 feet high and offers stunning views of Fairmont Southampton. The foot of the former lighthouse keepers cottage is now a restaurant that draws many tourists wishing to look out onto the sea as they have lunch.

Royal Naval Dockyard

If you are interested in exploring one of the more historic parts of Bermuda, consider visiting the Royal Naval Dockyard located on Ireland island. This base served as the site for the British royal navy during American independence and the cold war. The dockyard is a popular port for cruise ships well as the home of various sporting events, including the America’s cup which is won for yacht sailing races and this event was held in June of this year

Any Water/Outdoor activity

While Bermuda has a subtropical climate, these milder conditions make it comforting to take part in many activities while outside without fear of overheating. Water sports are big in Bermuda. You can try sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving or a long list of boat tours offered on the island. The main thing is to get out there and have fun while exploring this unique and picturesque country.

Get out there and explore ! Comment below if you will make Bermuda your next destination

Best of Britain on the Great Canadian Baking Show

It was the “Best of Britain” on the Great Canadian Baking Show, an homage to the Great British Bake Off no doubt. There was lots of tea…and lots of booze in this week’s show — and that made for an excellent combination.

The first challenge was a “majestic trifle”, something I have never made but now really want to. A trifle is an English dessert with layers of alcohol-soaked sponge, fruit, jelly, and custard. It is often served in a glass bowl so that the layers are visible to guests. This also means it is very easy to see all of your baking flaws. As judge Bruno Feldeisen said, “Trifles are like window shopping.” You know exactly what you are going to get.

The bakers rose to the challenge though, each one creating a nearly perfect looking trifle. I have to say the women really showcased their talents. Sabrina’s swirling sponge on the bottom of her trifle wowed the judges, and Vandana’s mango and tapioca pearls was truly creative.

One of my favourite moments was when Linda made her custard in the microwave. The judges were skeptical, assuming that without the constant whisking on low heat the item would curdle. Linda confidently said this was how she baked bustard at home and went about her business. When it came time to test her trifle, the judges were surprised at how nice the custard tasted. This wasn’t just a win for Linda, but a win for many of us who use things like microwaves, toaster ovens, and substitutions in our baking.

The baker’s technical challenge was to make 20 brandy snaps in one and a half hours. At first I thought a brandy snap was a cookie, but it’s actually a tubular brittle wafer filled with brandy-flavoured whipped cream. The hard part? You can only make three brandy snaps at a time. The batter expands and creates very thin doily-like wafer that you have to roll into a tube as soon as it comes out of the oven.  Even James, who is from the U.K., said he would never make these at home. Almost no one got these perfect.

The final show-stopping challenge was, of course, to bake treats for a British high tea. The bakers were asked to create three treats, with at least one savoury. The key was to create small, elegant items that were tied together with a theme.  Vandana surprised the judges yet again with an Indian-inspired collection of treats, beautifully decorated with flowers and gold accents. Sabrina’s peach-themed tea was also incredibly elegant.

The women were incredibly impressive this week, which meant the two boys were in danger of going home. At the end of the day, James was saved thanks to his “ugly but delicious” baking. Julian D’Entremont from halifax was sent home after a few missteps with his desserts.

Vandana, obviously, was named star baker this week!

It’s getting harder and harder to predict who is going home each week. Every single baker is ridiculously talented. I fell in love with Julian’s rustic-inspired bakes and his East Coast flare, but with only five bakers left, the competition is bound to get a bit more intense!

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle set to marry next May

As news broke early yesterday morning of Prince Harry’s royal engagement to American actress, Meghan Markle, hearts of girls around the world broke as they realized they had minuscule hope of becoming the next princess. Personally, I was rooting for Prince Harry and Meghan since the media started speculating about their relationship in 2015.

The two have been dating for a year and a half and it was announced Tuesday morning they are set to marry next May at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. The two are reportedly planning the ceremony themselves. Prince Harry has always been the more ‘bad-boy royal’ so to say, especially compared to his older brother, Prince William. Harry was known for his bachelor’s lifestyle, dating a string of beautiful women when he was younger and often getting in trouble with the press.

Eventually, Prince Harry matured and paid keen attention to his charitable work, including the support of 22 different charities and over 25 different causes worldwide. Before settling down with Meghan Markle, the prince’s long time on and off girlfriend of seven years was Chelsy Davy. Davy reportedly ended their relationship after she allegedly struggled with the pressure of dating a royal. Davy was last seen publically with Harry as she attended Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton back in 2011.

It has been reported by Harry and Meghan that the pair met through a female friend that set them up on a blind date. In fact, Harry claims to have never seen Markle on her most known television role in the show, Suits, before meeting. The two sat down for an intimate interview with a BBC reporter shortly after announcing to the public their official engagement. They giggled behind the scenes and acted very much like a couple that’s down to earth and in love. As Prince Harry remarked in the interview, Meghan Markle was ‘the one” from the very first time they met.

It sounds like the story of fairy-tales. Markle remarked that she excitedly replied yes to Harry’s proposal before he could even put the ring on her finger, as they spent a cozy evening at home roasting chicken. I am beyond thrilled for this next royal couple and considering these two have a lot in common, including their love for charity, it is hopeful they can live a relatively normal life, at least as normal as it can get for for such a well-known member of the Royal Family.

The British family has changed quite a lot over the years, but Prince Harry and Meghan Markle ignored any negative feedback from the public. As Harry is fifth in line to the crown, it doesn’t seem there is any rush for him to conform to the pressure of being a ‘King’, while living in such a modern society. Markle, who is a divorced, American actress, will now allegedly become HRH Duchess of Sussex, or as she will be in our hearts: Princess Meghan, the one that stole Harry’s heart.

Congratulations to this happy and beautiful couple.