Don’t Relax, Brexiteers, It’s Not Over Yet

On June 26th last year, I wrote that blog post. Today, Article 50 is triggered, and Theresa May says it’s time to come together and be friends and jolly well make the most of the catastrophic fuck-up ahead.

Not a chance.

While 9 months have passed, I don’t feel any different in my instinctive, deep seated, irrevocable revulsion against what the UK has done. I don’t feel one iota less angry or scared than I did on June 26th, and I know I’m not alone in that.

Of course, we now know that Brexit is not really about exiting the EU at all. It’s a process of stripping workers’ rights and downgrading public services, as the Tories convert the UK into a grotty, damp little tax haven for them and their mates. Scotland? Yeah, fuck them. Peace in Ireland? Fuck that, too.

Nigel Farage suddenly seems a little less jubilant. He says he’ll leave the country if Brexit doesn’t work out. Because remember: he’s a member of the establishment, an ex-banker. He can afford to, and he doesn’t give a shit if you can’t afford to do the same.

Any pretense we were fed about this being a protest about sovereignty or globalisation has vanished. The people that sold Brexit on an extra £350m per week for the NHS have voted in Parliament against their own promise.

Actually, now I think about it, I’m more angry than I was in June last year.

This isn’t over. There’s a good chance that Article 50 is reversible. There will be opportunities to vote against the impending economic ruin of the UK in local elections. My company, Red Robot, has just registered an Estonian sister company so we can continue to trade in the EU. And I feel confident that young people in this country will stand up and fight for the benefits of EU membership.

Brexit is being reported as a triumphant victory against the “evils” of the European Union. The people who think that presume they can drown us out when we reject it. They can’t. Brexit is essentially a particularly nasty streak of the British psyche lashing out in fear against a modern, open, integrated, peaceful world.

The Daily Mail and the Sun do not speak for me, and neither does Theresa May. Have faith. As long as we have faith, it’s not over.

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Succeeding, Irrespective of Trump

Succeeding, Irrespective of Trump

Sallie Krawcheck is the ex-CEO of the largest ‘wealth management’ business in the world, Merrill Lynch, and held executive roles at Citi Wealth Management, Smith Barney, and others. She recently published this blog.

Let’s look at a few excerpts.

[Women] can’t rely on others to fight this battle for us, and so we must redouble our efforts.

I’m hearing from more and more women that we must “put on our big girl pants” and do this ourselves.

If we care about this, we have to do something different — and more — tomorrow than we did yesterday.

And:

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States could just be the best thing that has happened to professional women in a long time.

The “big girl pants” thing is breathtakingly condescending, and doesn’t appear to have been used with any sense of irony. But beyond that, the statements I’ve pulled out are an insult to the women that have credible sexual assault claims against Trump (or any other sexual predator).

They’re also insult to all the women who are striving pretty damn hard to make their way in male-dominated businesses already.

I’ve worked in a business where I was the only female technician. I was bullied and harassed; I was signed off with anxiety and depression. I know what it’s like to work twice as hard, yet be passed over for promotion. I can’t describe how insulting it is to imply Trump’s election would offer inspiration for professional woman to try a bit harder.

Trump’s election is a symptom of the problem we are facing. It isn’t a catalyst for the solution.

Krawcheck’s article reminds me of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, in which a middle class woman explains why they need to try harder at work. (Krawcheck is poised to release a book called Own It with a very similar synopsis.)

Here’s my opinion. Women should succeed irrespective of Trump. They already work fucking hard. They shouldn’t have to credit Trump for their success. Articles like this are normalising Trump’s behaviour. It’s a process we should all resist.

In our new post-truth world, people sometimes say weird things to get in a newsfeed and sell a copy of a book. I get that. But maybe that’s why we’re in this mess in the first place. We need to look more closely at the things we are casually endorsing, and stop making excuses for state-sanctioned misogyny.

Tech, Trump and Twitter

The media (and the current POTUS) sat up and noticed when Donald Trump gave up his Twitter account before the election. Trump is a proficient Twitter user. He’s had high-profile spats, and used social media to chastise the press, even after he became President-elect.

Those who follow @realDonaldTrump may have noticed a difference in the tone and wording of some of his tweets. Some are sent from an Android device, and appear to be written by Trump himself. Some are posted from an iPhone. In some Twitter clients, the app used to send the tweet is displayed under the content, so it’s easy to pick them out. But even without that information, it’s obvious from the tone that two different people are tweeting.

David Robinson went one step further than looking at the content; he actually analysed the language, post frequency, and timing. Trump on Android posts more in the morning, which would suggest it’s him; he’s a notoriously early riser. Trump (on Android) frequently uses words like “crazy”, “weak” and “dumb”, and comes across as more negative. In contrast, the tweets from the iPhone are a textbook example of a well-managed social media campaign. According to analysis, those ones aren’t from Trump.

Given that Trump already mooted plans to stay at the White House only part-time, one would presume that he’s expecting many of the constraints of office not to apply to him. But here’s the thing: he won’t be allowed to use a phone. Android is arguably the mobile OS most susceptible to malware and hacks [1, 2, 3], and Trump uses a Samsung Galaxy.

Even if he switched OS, the weak link on any system is the user: they lose their phone, they leave it unlocked, or they install an app that isn’t safe. That’s why Presidents aren’t allowed to use smartphones like the ones we use.

Here’s an interesting juxtaposition. I recently wrote an article about the bizarre internet in North Korea, and the tech that is in use there. I found out that Kim Jong-un is probably the only person in the DPRK that owns Apple products, apart from devices bought on the black market. In complete contrast, American presidents are stuck with phones that can’t dial out. They can’t even take a photo.

Obama has an iPhone, but most of the apps are disabled. So he has to borrow someone else’s iPhone to Tweet. Which is ironic, because I just realised that @BarackObama has been following me for 8 years on Twitter. He was President-elect when the account was first used. It sounds like he’s not been able to interact much since, thanks to his toy-town handset. So I guess I needn’t worry that I wasn’t following him back.

If Obama wasn’t allowed to call home from his smartphone, I doubt that Trump will be allowed to tweet. But maybe he’ll stash away a secret Samsung Galaxy at Trump Tower. Either way, he’s almost certainly guaranteed to have less access to social media than Kim Jong-un, which is a beautiful irony, given the week we’ve just lived through.

Solidarity to Our American Friends as Trump is Elected

I want to send love and solidarity to my American friends who voted against Donald Trump. Most of them did, just as most of my British (and Commonwealth) friends voted to Remain in June.

Today, I see the same emotions among my American friends as I did after the referendum. There’s a sense of disbelief and horror. People are in despair. These are new feelings for many of us. The resurgence of right wing politics – division, loathing and hostility – is something we never thought we would see.

Trump and Brexit are a symptom of people kicking against diversity, inclusion and progress. We are seeing racism, homophobia and sexism normalised and promoted, to our disgust. Fault lines have been forming under the supervision of the right wing press and neoliberalism, both of which have colluded very successfully to gain power from the ensuing divides.

Ironically, in both Brexit and the US election, elites were seen as the target. But here’s the biggest con trick we’ll ever live through: the elites are framing millionaires as saviours of ‘ordinary working people’. Farage and Trump have pulled this off with aplomb, supported by the news media and a populous that doesn’t know who to blame.

In 2016, the fault lines have finally ruptured. Young people are used to being global citizens; digital citizens, even. They see the world without borders. Hatred of foreigners is an abstract concept, because we work among foreigners and have friends in many countries, unlike previous generations. When a demagogue is elected to build walls, it makes the young feel imprisoned.

This morning, I’ve already seen dissenters being told to “move to Mexico if you don’t like it”, which is essentially a clone of the jibes we’ve come to expect from people who tell British Remain voters to “piss off and live in the EU”. These people honestly believe their shiny new Nationalist millionaire overlords will look after them. If you dare point out the irony, you’re told to pack up and leave.

Trump bears all the hallmarks of a man who is deeply insecure and craves validation. Deep down, he probably has no real interest in actually doing the job of President, and it’s a fallacy to believe he has the skills or stamina to even try.

There are tough times ahead. Don’t give up yet. We need to look after each other.

Here are a few more articles you might find interesting.

Marmite thinks Brexit is a swear word in its new web app

Marmite is offering loyal fans the chance to personalise your own jar. If you type a swear word, it comes up on the label as asterisks, and triggers a profanity warning.

Exactly the same thing happens when you try using the word ‘Brexit’.

screenshot_20161103-074913

To the developer who did this: huge props. It gave me a good laugh this morning. I would still like a jar of Brexit Marmite, but I guess I might have to make my own.

Edit: looks like some swearwords have slipped through the net.

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Archie

My friend Archie died in September, having been diagnosed with a rare tumor a few months before.

Before Archie’s memorial service, I’d spent about two weeks organising photos of his handsome face and figured I was pretty well prepared for a funeral. I had gone through the darkness and the shock. I would be fine on the day.

And then, on the day, I cried when I ordered the taxi. Then cried again when I was sat on the wall waiting for the taxi. Then cried passing my old flat in Cumberland Court. And then I cried again getting out of the taxi, and again walking up to Left Bank, and again when I saw the same photos of Archie projected on a massive screen, framed by fairy lights. Everyone else seemed OK, like they were coping, and I really wasn’t coping at all.

Then, I waited for the toilet for a bit. And cried because Archie once kept me waiting ages for the toilet at a party so he could fully enjoy a relaxing, sit-down wee.

Suddenly something very abstract had become very real. Archie’s gone. Everyone else seemed OK, like they were coping, and I really wasn’t coping.

But each time I crumbled, there was someone there to catch me on the way down.

Archie’s diagnosis was devastating and unfair and sudden and shocking… all of those emotions that you can’t explain. He knew it would be devastating and he was worried about that, not just for me but for hundreds of people. He did his best to absorb the shock and deliver things in a format I could manage. His texts were usually positive, although not always, but he always found positivity in the act of sharing.

We were opposites and yet the same in our stubbornness and determination to win an argument. About 10 years ago, we were pretty close. He would often come round my house to do my head in about something, but his sense of humour and unique outlook on life made him a hugely attractive presence. Plus, we had a shared appetite for fun, friends and mischief. We had our ‘disagreements’. Once, after pissing me off, he followed me around all night to try smooth things over. Equally, I owe him a few favours and apologies too, particularly for the time he pissed me off by booking me a complete tour of Switzerland without asking.

All the times he came over with some beers or an idea to share, he made me laugh. Just by being Archie, even without trying. Daft, inappropriate, goofy and nerdy, sometimes saying things in that crossover Swiss German/ English phrasing he used. “Make a party” is the phrase I heard most often. We made lots of them.

On Saturday, wise people told me life isn’t fair and sometimes bad things happen for no reason. It’s OK. Thanks, Archie, for making sure I had time to prepare. Thanks everyone else for getting me through it.

Emails, 1 week after Brexit.

I wanted to share a cross-section of the emails I’ve received about my original blog. I’ve removed any details that could identify the authors, which means some are shorter than the original emails I received. If you’re quoted, and you’d rather I remove your comments, just drop me a line.


“Let’s be happy and move on” I’m sorry we took that literally, we are quitting England. My husband already found another job, we are moving in Scotland in one year….


Perhaps you should have been writing for Camoron and Osborne, you appear to have gained a Masters degree in project fear. Perhaps a visit to your GP would help to cure your irrational fear.


There is nothing to be gained by wingeing on and in about something that can’t be changed. Get over it and put your energies into making the best of it!! We are not dead yet.


This is the best thing I have read since the referendum started What has happened to the country my Father fought so bravely for in the Royal Navy plus two world wars also my sister in the WRENS !!!


I would like to thank you for laying fingers on keys, for getting words out of an emotional tumble, for saying how you see it, feel it and experience it. The IT being the utter and total desolation of our identity. I hope more people get to read your text, I hope that like all good obituaries it enables people to openly grieve, and, by grieving we are able to perceive what was there, what we had and what we are loosing.


This can be and should be stopped now. Before we tear this country apart. Lobby your MP to reject pushing that Article 50 mutually assured destruction button


I was just about to feel resigned and try and meet people in the middle ground when you reminded me about why I am angry. Thanks


this vote was as much a ‘no confidence’ in our government and its policies locally as anything else which most seem to be ignoring.


I lived outside the UK in the EU for 40 years and moved back to the UK three years ago […] Now it looks as if we may have to move back to the EU as we spend about 4 months every year there and this makes it impossible for my wife to get UK nationality and status as a UK resident.
I appreciate your blog, it is one of the few comforts I have to read someone with the same view as I have, please keep it up.


The E.U has plenty of problematic issues, I am not naive enough to think that every thing was wonderful but it is an assembly of ADULTS. Surely we should be working things out together with a lot of give and take not scheming and gambling with peoples futures.


I run a charity that helps the poorest people in the poorest country in the world. I’m now really worried as to how we will be able to retain our funding in the current climate.


I am more than 100% with you on your views of Brexit.
My heart is broken.
I lived and worked in different EU countries, and my kids grew up and went to school outside the UK […]. My mother was Hungarian. I receive a pension from there, which I may now loose. […]
I feel disempowered and frustrated. And unbelievably sad.


Thank you for expressing things I entirely agree with, and have shared widely.
It takes courage! I just made these http://stores.clothes2order.com/i-love-eu/ (this is not a plug I promise) and i notice that I am even nervous to wear mine.
Bloody hell.


I have tears in my eyes. I nearly cried last Friday morning and I’ve felt down ever since and, even with everything you’ve referred to in your post […] I’ve managed not to shed tears. But now…
All I can say to you is – and this seems pathetically inadequate – I am so, so, sorry. For you. For me, for my daughters, and my grand-children. For the rest of Britain, and for Europe.


I am Scottish, with a UK passport, but I live in Austria with my daughter. When I lose the EU connection, will I have to go and live out my last days in UK? Where? Who will care for me?
The lack of knowledge is frightening.


I’m disabled and am currently unable to work. I’m hoping to be in a position to work again. I haven’t a clue what I’m going to do and am at the mercy of IDS, Gove, Johnson and Farage.

I’m more scared for my children, though. My 16 year old has already stated that he […] will leave at the first opportunity and my 13 year old […] is absolutely furious that he has no future.

My only hope is that the Labour Party will sort itself out and oust this horrible lot at the next election.


Such short-sightedness. We have a similar problem here in the US…someone running for president who has all the answers. I send my compassion to you and all those who voted to stay in the EU.


we have a farm France but we are English, and our world and that of our children has just been turned upside down.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with others locally, you have succinctly put into words something that no politician has so far dared!


The events of the last few days, including legal opinions on the need for a new Act of Parliament, lead me to believe/hope that it won’t happen.  But the uncertainty and instability it will cause in the meantime is unacceptable.

 Wonderful. We, all of us with shared concerns, need to help encourage people to rise to the occasion and mobilise to help change the way we do everything. What has happened is a crime against reason, culture and humanity…


I don’t think this is over by a long way yet, so we all need to take heart, speak up and hope.

 

A way to keep your business in the EU.

Last Friday, after the referendum results were announced, I registered as an e-resident of Estonia. It’s not what I planned to do that day, that’s for sure.

My main motivation for becoming an e-resident was to give me an option to keep part of my company in the EU. This could offer some benefits, like having an EU address, a euro bank account, and an ability to sign contracts under EU law (since we have no idea what UK law is going to look like).

E-residency doesn’t offer EU citizenship or Schengen travel, unfortunately.

I’ve written a guide to Estonian e-residency on the Red Robot Media website.

13 Brexit questions we should all be asking.

  1. How was Vote Leave allowed to walk more than 70 million people off a cliff without a parachute, while quietly deleting all of its campaign promises from its website?
  2. Why is Boris Johnson’s Telegraph column his only meaningful response to the crisis we are in?
  3. Is it OK that he gets paid £5,000 a week for communicating with the public via the Telegraph?
  4. Is it OK that the contents of his column were pure fiction anyway?
  5. Is this guy fit to be prime minister if he can’t even back up the promises he made in a referendum?
  6. How come Michael Gove is too busy playing Monopoly to show his face in public?
  7. Did anybody vote for Sarah Vine?
  8. Is it a coincidence that the Labour party is trying to force Jeremy Corbyn to resign before the Chilcott report is published, because of the threat that they will all be implicated in war crimes?
  9. Is it a coincidence that Portland Communications, a company that employs Alastair Campbell, has allegedly engineered ways to make Jeremy Corbyn look bad in the press?
  10. If the Parliamentary Labour Party is so concerned about winning an election, wouldn’t now be a really good time to be helping the people they are supposed to represent?
  11. Is anybody doing anything to prevent Brexit brain drain?
  12. Why is Nigel Farage given free reign to make us look even more idiotic than we already feel?
  13. Can someone ring Nicola Sturgeon?

Moving on from ‘independence day’.

My Brexit blog has received an overwhelming number of visits, and I’ve received lots of emails about it. (One reader pointed out that “at least we are not dead”, which is certainly a straw worth clutching at.)

Before I post again, just a few points:

  • It’s just a blog.
  • If you need someone to insult, plenty of politicians are fair game right now, regardless of the way you voted.
  • I will henceforth refer to all male Metro journalists as ‘Angry Dads’.
  • There is a certain irony in telling me to “piss off and live in the EU”.

Thanks for sharing and commenting. I hope we can find a way forward together.