Sunday 12 November 2017

Who gets custody of the kids? Why Brexit resembles nothing so much as a divorce.

[I felt the need to write about something else...]

Britain. Europe. Two people who eventually managed to get married back in 1973, once the objecting parent in the shape of France’s Charles de Gaulle had passed away, thus opening the door to their union. As in any marriage, some effort at compromise and adjustment to each other’s behaviours and idiosyncrasies was required, yet the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. With Europe’s support, Britain finally achieved settlement to a hitherto intractable and long-running dispute with Northern Ireland on its side of the family, whereas Europe, with Britain’s support, welcomed family members back into the fold who had been frozen out behind the Iron Curtain for decades. And yet, a problem common among many married couples, was money management, which became a significant source of friction within the couple.

From the get-go, Britain wasn’t too keen on Europe’s CAP outgoings. The issue remained intractable until a marriage guidance counsellor called Thatcher persuaded Europe that compromise could be achieved by contributing slightly less to the household budget in the shape of the 1984 “opt-out”. And then there were things that one partner did that, try as they might, the other partner simply couldn’t get to grips with. Such as the Euro, for example. Or deciding to let certain family members play with the Euro (I mention no names). Or then beating up on that family member (whose name remains un-mentioned) when they got all the rules of the game wrong… But, hey – unlike your friends, you don’t get to choose family. But it’s not a healthy sign when the partners in a marriage decide on having separate bank accounts.

 So at this point I think we’ll skip forward past the acrimonious accusations of whose fault it really is – in a divorcing marriage both sides are invariably at fault even if you really, really don’t think you’ve done anything wrong (if you think that, then the communication broke down years ago, so it’s your fault). One partner went to see their lawyer and, because lawyers don’t get paid for being marriage counsellors, divorce papers got served on the other. And as with all consummated and fruitful marriages (I mean divorces), the most contentious issues revolve around who gets the house, who gets custody of the kids, and how do we split up the pets that we both had while we were still together? Meaning, respectively: the EU divorce bill; the EU nationals living in Britain and vice versa; and Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

The house: think of it as the common home established by Britain and Europe, but which Britain has decided to leave. You can ‘not pay’, but ‘not pay’ is rather like saying “I’m leaving, you move out!” Far safer – as far as divorce proceedings go – is to ‘pay’, that is to say “I’m leaving, and I’ll help you keep the house”. The kids: “…well, I’d love to continue caring for our children, but now that I’m on my own again – you see – I need to be free…” Most divorce lawyers would probably take a dim view of this sentiment and advise against expressing it during the proceedings. The kids were born to both parents, and duties and obligations that arise as a result need to continue. Treating one child as less deserving than another wouldn’t cut it in a divorce court and it certainly shouldn’t with EU or British nationals’ post-Brexit. The pets: and the divorcing couple are particularly attached to them. We can’t split up the pets without causing them serious emotional harm, and neither side wants to ‘give’ the pet to the other in perpetuity, so the best the couple can do now that they are separating is to find some way of sharing. Which means that they need to work out how.

It’s not too late to go back to marriage guidance counselling…

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