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Brexit withdrawal symptoms, anyone?

  • Published at 11:00 pm February 2nd, 2020
Photo: Reuters

The actual position of Britain outside the EU remains indistinct

Finally, it’s over … the saga of Britain’s attempts to leave the European Union have come to an end. In between, we have had all the drama imaginable, starting from panic to anxiety, to impatience to acrimony.  

In my opinion, since Downton Abbey is over, a series on Brexit may not be a foolish idea at all, since the whole process saw the demise of two PMs, mouthwatering machinations and the axing of so many bureaucrats. 

But what now for Britain and her relations with the rest of the world? I am not an expert, but as far as Bangladesh is concerned, students who are planning to go to the UK to study seem to be in high spirits since a new law in Britain will give a student the chance to work there for two years. 

What about trade, and will Brexit have any impact on the Indian food sphere which is mostly run by British Bangladeshis?

Asian opinion is rarely seen

For the last few years, the focus of BBC and several other channels has been the protracted talks with the European Union for an acceptable exit plan; while countless people have been shown to express their opinions, very few British Asians were asked their opinion about the impending secession. 

In most British issues that create news and interest worldwide, the views of Asian British people are never asked. 

Let’s take the three major upheavals in the UK in the last one year: The declaration of Harry and Meghan leaving the royal family, the catastrophic interview by Prince Andrew on his relations with a convicted sex offender, and the car accident of Prince Philip early in 2019. 

All these events were dissected from several angles by the international news media, BBC included, but for some inexplicable reason, while the opinion of the public was being asked, hardly any British Asian person was seen to express their take on things.

As Brexit has taken place, the prime minister and several leading politicians have spoken of a new era. But if Britain really wants to be seen as a unique voice outside Europe, then more pluralism is needed when projecting issues that stir curiosity worldwide. 

As an avid follower of British politics, I have rarely seen opinions taken from the large South Asian community in the UK on Brexit, the Meghan-Harry crisis, or even the paranoia over Huawei’s 5G technology. 

The PMs guillotined by Brexit

Many may remember Brexit for the prolonged wrangling, acrimony, and dissension but others will associate the hurdles in the Brexit process with the rise and spectacular fall of Theresa May. 

She served as PM of Britain from 13 July 2016 to 24 July 2019 -- a little over three years -- though despite her continuous efforts, she will possibly be deemed a failure. 

Objectively speaking, May tried her best, but perhaps she appeared a bit too ruthless in her stances and harped on too much about curbing immigration.

Would it be wrong to state that her period as premier will only be remembered for torturous negotiations, internal rebellion, and a complete implosion of the system? 

Reportedly, May also lost support from a section of the public when she did not meet the victims of the Grenfell tragedy which caused the death of 72 people. 

Theresa May came to deliver Brexit, failed, and then slipped into obscurity. In fact, the Brexit monster claimed two premiers -- David Cameron and Theresa May. 

What’s next for Britain? 

I am not exaggerating by saying that with Brexit done, a knife edge thrill has suddenly ended. The days of feverish anticipation are over. At least for the time being. But how much is Britain actually out of the European influence? 

A line from a famous Eagles song comes to minds: You can check in anytime you want, but you can never leave Hotel California. 

Over the years, there was talk of following the Norway example, with loose economic links with European nations, and plenty of other options. 

However, at this moment, the real picture is still indistinct. The fog will start to clear in a year or so and then the actual position of Britain outside the EU will become clear. 

From a totally different angle, the curry restaurants in the UK have been facing a shortage of chefs for quite some time, and since education plus work is now a possibility in the UK, one may see many students from Bangladesh aiming to take up culinary arts as their higher education option. 

Whether it is a rocky road ahead or not, there may soon be a lot of trained curry chefs in restaurants across Britain.

To end with Shakespeare: “Time will unfold what plighted cunning hides, who covers faults at last shame them derides.” 

Towheed Feroze is News Editor at Bangla Tribune and teaches at the University of Dhaka.