Brexit – An American’s View

Brexit: silver flag pole with a GB and a EU flag each pointing in opposite direction.

I’ve always been an Anglophile. Despite being born and raised in West Texas, right on the border with Mexico, I was always an avid watcher of  BBC America (on which a selection of BBC shows are aired), I read enthusiastically about British history, and supported Chelsea. I knew quite a lot about the country in terms of history and popular culture but didn’t really know anything about the politics or the economy of the nation. And never did I even think that the word Brexit would be such a part of my vocabulary. How that would change.

First Impressions

When I moved to the UK in 2012, one thing I definitely didn’t know much about was British politics. But I did know about the European Union and had always wondered how things would work if there was a similar kind of Union in America. Sure, the USA is by definition a Union of States, but I’m talking about a Union that consisted of say the USA, Canada and Mexico, and perhaps even other countries.

Impossible, really! There is so much division between the different nations that make up America as a whole (North, Central and South); that the dream of having anything akin to the EU is too distant to even contemplate.

Brexit Talks

It was with some surprise when I moved here to learn that there was a growing number of people who wanted Britain to leave the UK. The seeds of Brexit were already been sown; but I couldn’t imagine it becoming a reality. After all, why wouldn’t people be happy that their country and its citizens could live in any of 26 other countries freely. As well as work freely, come and go as they please, do business with those countries; all without having to pay anything extra for the privilege? It sounded like paradise to me.

As time wore on and the closer we got to the eventual referendum, I  started to listen more to the views of the Leave campaign. More out of curiosity than anything else. Was it really true that Britain was sending millions of pounds to support the EU every month, and that money would be so much better spent on the NHS? Were too many British laws unnecessary and intrusive and just there to keep the EU onside, as it were?

Let’s talk about Gibraltar

My hubby James is from Gibraltar, a dependent but self-governing overseas territory at the Southern tip of Spain. Gibraltar’s citizens are also British citizens who have a long history of resisting Spain’s attempts to regain sovereignty. Freedom of movement into and out of Spain is critical to Gibraltar’s fortunes. So it was the place where the highest percentage of votes were placed in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

James’ natural bias towards the Remain campaign did play a part in my own opinions of the Brexit arguments. I’m still a US citizen so I couldn’t vote, but I did experience first hand the emotions of someone who had a lot invested in the result. And it wasn’t easy for me to say to him “but have you thought about why people want out of the EU? What about what they’re saying about the money and jobs?”

We actually listened to the referendum count on the radio while on the road through Arizona, where we were driving, from Texas, to visit my brothers, and it was quite surreal, to say the least. Everyone will remember where they were when the referendum result was confirmed, I think.

Brexit: dice in blue box each one coloured as a EU country's flag.

Where We Are Now

Fast forward almost 3 years and so much water has already gone under the bridge; in terms of what Brexit actually means in practice. It seems like a lot of what was said in the campaigns may well not be completely accurate. But I’m definitely one of those who has accepted the result for what it is; and agrees that the time for arguing about the idea of a second referendum is over. We need to look forward and make the best of the situation. There are a growing number of poor people in our great country. And we need to focus on how we help not only ourselves and our families; but those in need around us.

One of the ways that I think Britain can really make a difference to the impact of Brexit is by having a more efficient tax system.

I’m a big fan of the Tax Alliance and believe the tax system does also need to be fairer. What irks me the most is seeing how big corporations seem to find loopholes in the tax system. And end up often paying pitiful tax percentages.

I often think that surely there must be a way that businesses can be held liable for full UK tax; if they sell their products to someone in the UK. Even if these corporations use arguments like; “we make our profit online and we are registered in the Caymans, so we don’t owe any more UK tax”. Or maybe I am thinking of it too simplistically?

It can definitely be hard to ensure that you get your tax affairs 100% right, especially when you are self-employed. And going to the site to understand what you need to do can be pretty confusing; especially when you need to find out how to talk to someone at HMRC about it. I’m sure I’m not the only blogger who has experienced this!

When there is so much similar information in so many different places online, it can make what should be straightforward stressful, and sometimes what you need is to find one place where you can get all the necessary information you need, whether it be in relation to tax, benefits or employment. And in my view, we definitely need more simplicity in our lives and better communication. Not only with those around us; but with our Government. As well as those whose responsibility it is to find the best way forward for all of us at this uncertain time.

post commissioned by Talk Tax - All views and opinions are my own
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