Merchants of Brexit

The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, has suffered yet another defeat in parliament (that's six now) and his intention to leave the EU at the end of this month has been thwarted. Judging whether this is a good or bad thing at this stage in affairs must be left to the advanced level Brexitologists.

It’s not easy to judge whether Jean-Claude Juncker, when he announced last week that a withdrawal agreement had been reached, knew what was going to happen and was acting, or whether he really believed that Johnson would get the deal through parliament. For the peace of mind of European citizens, it’s better to believe in his acting skills; after all, if history has taught us anything it’s that trusting in British diplomacy is a demonstration of naivety, but trusting in it with Boris Johnson in charge can only be explained by self-flagellation tendencies. And it wouldn’t be nice to have a masochist at the helm of the European Commission.

The comings and goings in the Brexit negotiations, to the extent that only the specialists are able to explain exactly at what point we’re at now, are very similar to separation processes where parents pull their hair out and spend money they haven’t got on lawyers, while their children look on astonished, and with the uncertainty about their future written all over their faces.

It is certainly worrying that all these public statements about agreements and disagreements are focused on customs borders, trade agreements and what will happen to the circulation of goods in the future, all matters of unquestionable importance. But no reference is made to what will happen to the everyday lives of those for whom Brexit has brought anxiety and threatens to change their lives for the worse.

It’s very difficult to imagine that in these interminable meetings where they debate what will happen to the movement of capital and goods and the border with Northern Ireland they find the time to discuss issues that affect the 300,000 British residents in Spain many of whom live on the Costa del Sol.

These are our neighbours who are still not sure about what will happen to their legal status in this country, to their pensions, to their healthcare, to the validity of the qualifications their children obtain in schools that follow the British curriculum, to the possibility of these schools to continuing to recruit teachers in the UK.

It’s worrying that in the middle of all these negotiations, no political leader has found the time to send them at least a word of relief or reassurance.