Kate Mentink.

30-03-2019Archive

Kate Mentink has spent the best part of her professional and political life living and working all over Europe, in particular here in Majorca where, for many years, she was an extremely active member of the Partido Popular. She dedicated years to looking after and defending the rights of foreign citizens living in the Balearics and during her time in politics she would often advise her colleagues to simply look at the UK and follow its example when problems arose.

However, the Brexit debacle and the failure of the government and MPs to honour the result of the referendum has left Kate disillusioned, disheartened and ashamed.

"I used to look up to the mother of all democracies and would tell my fellow politicians to do the same. ‘Just copy the UK’ I would say, but what on earth has happened? We are being told that we are watching democracy at work in the UK, well we’re not. Agree with the result of the referendum or not, MPs have a duty to deliver for the constituents and the millions of people who voted leave are increasingly frustrated and angry. After all, it is the constituents who put MPs in power. MPs would do well to remember who they work for and serve, not their own personal interests, but those of their constituents and the good of the country.

"Then there is the damage that has been done to Britain’s global image. It’s a laughing stock. I’m lost for words when asked by my Spanish and European friends about what is going on. What am I supposed to say, if MPs don’t know and appear incapable of doing their jobs properly? There is just no comparison. The UK has never seen anything like this before and it is extremely worrying.

"Perhaps many MPs who wanted to leave may have changed their minds now that the full implications of pulling out of the EU have finally become clear, but it’s too late and they should not be playing personal politics in parliament. Like I’ve said, the result of the referendum has to be respected otherwise the electorate, the country, will simply lose all faith in politicians and politics.

"The deal, which has been approved by all 27 members states of the EU should also be respected. The UK voted to leave, it has a deal, so leave. I know many British businesses and residents who operate and live here and a large number are very concerned about what is going to happen and what the eventual ramifications are going to be.

"Import and export companies, for example, still have no clear indication about what the eventual new rules and regulations are going to be, and for Britons living here permanently, just get down to your local town hall and register.

"Make an appointment with the traffic department to change over your driving licence. I know people will not get an appointment for months but just get into the system, get the paperwork to show that you are being processed," Kate said, hinting that it is better to take action now and be safer than sorry whatever the outcome is going to be.

Despite being a remainer and a strong believer in the European Union project, Kate respects the results of the referendum but does not agree with how it was carried out. "On matters so extremely important, such as leaving the European Union, 50/50 referendums should not be allowed. They have got to be 60/40 or 70/30. My family back in Scotland have still not got over their referendum, the country as a whole has not and the debate about leaving the United Kingdom continues today with a strong movement for another referendum.

"It has divided Scotland, and this Brexit mess is causing serious damage to the political and social fabric of the United Kingdom. In parliament, we have clearly divided political parties, rife infighting on both sides of the house. If there is going to be an early general election and the Conservatives lose, it will take the party years to recover from its self-inflicted wounds.

"But what worries me more is how and when society as a whole is going to recover from this. The rhetoric being used by MPs is quite aggressive and this has all spilled out onto social media. Fifteen or twenty years ago, a politician would make a controversial comment and it may have just about made the evening news and then the following day’s newspapers before being forgotten about.

"Today, however, it gets posted on social media and it’s there to stay, for all to read and for all to comment on and argue about. All this is just fueling the social division in the United Kingdom and the longer parliament drags Brexit out, tension is going to continue rising and the fallout could be very nasty. It is going to take the United Kingdom at least a generation to recover from all this and it’s far from over yet.

"I remember living in London in the '60s and everyone was just getting on with life, working hard and getting along. The country was still recovering from the Second World War, everyone had been extremely hard up, it was still rebuilding, but everyone was pulling together. There was a good atmosphere with people looking to a positive future. Sadly that appears to have all been lost; Brexit has divided the country.

"Leave won by such a small margin, but the consequences are colossal. We used to open our arms to foreigners who wanted to come and work in the UK. What’s happened? Moreover, there are a number of important issues which don’t appear to be being addressed or discussed. For example, there are millions of Britons living and working in the European Union.

"We have been used to being able to travel freely, move from one country to another, work here and there, study, learn languages, set up families and establish new homes and lives within the EU. But the new generation of young people are not going to be entitled to all that. It certainly is not going to be as easy and it works both ways.

"I come from an agricultural background and the vast majority of the people my parents employed to pick the crops were from Eastern Europe, I can’t imagine many young Britons doing that. What they want and assume is that their standards of living will be at least the same or even better than their parents. I think under the new post-Brexit climate, young people coming into the workplace are going to find that very tough and that will create more social bitterness.

"And with people living longer and the birthrate in the UK falling, who is going to pay the pensions? Is the cost of living going to have to be increased Coincidentally, Spain and Germany are facing the some conundrum.

"Then we have the problem of a long extension which could possibly mean the UK having to field candidates at the European elections and then negotiations resuming at a later date. The danger there is that not only will it take until October for the newly elected European Union to start operating again, there will a new fresh intake of Euro MPs and, who knows, some of them may not like certain items in the deal and want to revise them.

"What’s going to happen if the next generation of Euro MPs want to start picking over the deal if the UK is still arguing over how and when it’s going to leave the EU? There is not only going to be a change with regard to who will be leading the second phase of Brexit negotiations or even leading the UK government, but there will be big changes in Europe as well. Right now, the European Union is facing a testing time with economic woes and the rise of populist politics, mainly to the far right.

"So, prolonging the pain and anguish could prove to be a very dangerous gamble. Like it or not, I think the UK has just got to get on with it and leave with the deal it’s got or crash out. Stop messing about, stop aggravating the general public before the situation turns really nasty."

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