Helen Martin: Sun won't fall from sky over EU exit

IN, out, shake it all about . . . it was the biggest Hokey Cokey in the world and certainly managed to shake everything up.

Monday, 27th June 2016, 8:03 am
Updated Monday, 27th June 2016, 9:13 am
'We've only been in the EU for 40 years - we managed before and we'll manage again.' Picture: Getty Images

Strangely, the financial markets, the EU itself, pollsters and politicians, all seemed to be shocked and surprised by the referendum result, despite the fact that there was clearly a 50:50 chance of it going either way. And as with the independence referendum, it was disappointingly close rather than decisive. A 3.8 percentage point difference can hardly be described as an overwhelming majority.

On Thursday I was joking about the grim prospect of chorizo and wine prices soaring if Brexit won the day. By Friday, my son was exploring his family tree to find out if there was anywhere else in Europe to which he could apply for a passport, complicated by the BBC report that other European states were already queuing up to start their own referendum process.

News that the UK financial market had taken a big hit was rapidly followed by confirmation that those of other European countries had tumbled by even more. It was beginning to look like a game of Jenga – remove one block and the whole thing could collapse.

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Then there’s the Scottish independence question. Being “dragged” out of the EU against our will has triggered talks about another indie campaign and negotiations to stay in EU – assuming the EU doesn’t crumble – and a new border between England and Scotland. London seems envious that we have that option.

Scotland in, England and Wales out, London going against the English tide to vote Remain and Northern Ireland voting to stay in the EU which does make a logical and economic case (if not a religious or sectarian one) for a united Ireland . . . no wonder David Cameron’s throwing in the towel, and not just because he didn’t get his own way.

Whoever succeeds him as Prime Minister is going to have to be adept at herding cats, let alone negotiating trade deals and ripping up swathes of laws to start all over. The ability to read a crystal ball would be an asset.

We knew there would be problems and dissent, whatever the outcome and we could be pretty sure Scotland would vote IN. But the overall 
geographical pattern of voting has left us with problems most of us never even contemplated.

That simple question on the ballot paper, and the appalling standard of shouty debates that gave us lots of passion and opinion to work on but not much in the way of facts or genuine risk, left most voting with their hearts.

It was like asking “Does God exist?” without even the option of a “Don’t Know” box, and all having to abide by the result.

But the sun won’t fall from the sky, we’ve only been in the EU for 40 years – we managed before and we’ll manage again, if we have to. The only advice I can offer my son and other disappointed younger folk, is stay calm, wait and see how it all shakes down, don’t let it stress you and maybe Auntie Nicola will bring a happy ending.

I’m all for a tourism tax if it benefits the locals

I’VE never supported the idea of local councils being free to impose taxes, but a tourism tax in Edinburgh, recently kyboshed by the Scottish Government, is an exception. The Capital is a commercial, political, financial, retailing, functioning city facing a financial black hole. Tourism is also one of its big industries and though it provides jobs and income it also impinges greatly on natives.

Chunks of our council tax go on attracting and entertaining visitors, parts of our housing stock are dedicated to holiday lets, our streets are closed to us for tourist events.

By all means we should have a tourist tax – if it goes towards improving services for locals or reducing council tax, and not merely giving the Council more to spend on trams, Hogmanay and other fripperies.

Few politicians in Cox’s league

THE murder of MP Jo Cox was tragic, especially because she was such an exceptional woman who genuinely worked for others. But amidst all the coverage were claims by other politicians that, like her, they needed special protection because they too selflessly served the public and were potential targets for hate crimes.

This was a despicable one-off. MPs are not at any higher risk than anyone else in public life. And few, if any, of them are in the same league as Cox who was a highly-principled, ethically-driven mum from a charitable background, completely innocent of the greasy pole-climbing, career building, expense-fiddling, self-serving attitude that characterises the majority of Westminster politicians.