The Hokey Cokey

So we've arrived at Brexit day. It's important to remember though that today is largely symbolic; UK MEPs and the last UK commissioner, Julian King, left the European Parliament and Commission respectively earlier this week and as such the UK no longer has representation in the EU as of tomorrow.

For most other aspects of our lives it's business as usual, at least for the rest of 2020. Still, many people on both sides of the divide probably thought we'd never even get this far.

I'm reminded of the song we used to sing as kids - the Hokey Cokey - in out, in out, shake it all about. I certainly feel like I have been shaken all about since waking up on 24 June 2016 to the final result of the referendum.

Cast your minds back to that balmy night in early summer - San Juan - my favourite Spanish fiesta - on 23 June.

I was on the beach with a European crowd and spirits were high. Nobody had really thought that the UK would vote to leave, but as San Juan drew closer, views were starting to change.

I was resolute. It couldn't happen. Surely my very lifestyle couldn't be taken away by people believing the lies being spun by a few multimillionaires about the evils of an "unelected institution". We were apparently facing a Europe so homogenised that we wouldn't be able to tell Portugal from Poland, not to mention the immigrants (EU or non-EU - they're all the same those Johnny foreigners) who were already going around stealing jobs.

Apparently it could. Since then the UK has been about to leave and then not, our rights have been protected, then protected as long as everyone else reciprocated, then not protected because we were about to go crashing out without a deal and finally to the 2020 Withdrawal Act.

While the act guarantees certain rights, there is still great uncertainty about residency rules here in Spain and the real test will be on 1 January 2021, at the end of the transition period. What happens if I decide to move to another EU country? Or if my Spanish partner and I decide we want or need to go to live in the UK at some point in the future? Do we risk facing more years of uncertainty while he applies for settled status? That's assuming he gets a job. What about our beloved dog? Will the pet passport scheme still work? Who knows.

Even the transition period remains to be seen. Boris Johnson seems determined that it will not be delayed beyond 31 December 2020, but we have little to go on when it comes to the UK government sticking to deadlines. The Withdrawal Act allows for an extra two years.

I for one fear we will be doing the Hokey Cokey for some time to come.