I just checked my passport to see when it expires. On the front it says ‘European Union’ and ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. Inside it says ‘British Citizen’.
After the referendum that the winners believe ‘took our country back’, the chances are that by the time I come to renew it none of these things will be true.
My citizenship of the European Union, giving me the right to live and work in any of the other 27 member states, will be gone. The United Kingdom and Great Britain, political constructs of centuries of history on these islands, will more than likely be gone too.
Great Britain, the union of England and Wales with Scotland, could soon cease to exist: the Scots may have voted No to independence but after voting to Remain in the EU on Thursday even unionists are coming out for a second referendum.
Northern Ireland, which also voted Remain, could see itself transformed. The majority of people may be proud to be British but they also know that Brexit could wreck the Good Friday Agreement and end freedom of movement between North and South.
Even the future of Gibraltar, for so long the rock at the heart of the British Empire, looks uncertain following its 96 per cent vote to Remain.
So by 2020 I could be a citizen (or subject) of a very different country. Whether we call it England, England and Wales or Rump UK, the constitutional clock will be turned back more than 400 years.
I will be an inhabitant rather than a citizen of Europe, the cultural clock turned back more than 40 years to the days when we used to call the land mass across the English Channel ‘The Continent’.
Originally published on June 24 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
As the dust settles on the momentous vote for Brexit, the one certainty seems to be uncertainty.
I blogged last week about what would follow a Leave vote that seemed a possiblity but no more than that. Here’s my updated take on the likely consequences for housing now that it’s a reality.
The markets are signalling, no screaming, that they expect huge dislocation. Shares in leading housebuilders led the stock market plunge, with falls of 40% or more at one stage, and banks were not far behind with falls of 25%.
You could read this as a signal that the City expects house prices and land prices to fall with severe impacts for both – or as a reaction to panic and uncertainty.
Either way, there will be short-term consequences. Housebuilders look certain to scale back development, stop opening new sites and hold off on decisions to invest in land. Equally, few people will want to buy in a market that could be about to see prices fall and the wider market will stall.
Originally posted on June 13 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
What should we do if we really want to reverse the decline in home ownership?
That’s the question posed in a new book published by centre right think tank Civitas (downloadable here). The answers are interesting and surprising, not just because of where it sits on the political spectrum, but also because the author is a longstanding evangelist for the home owning society and opponent of ‘Marxist’ housing advocates.
Peter Saunders wrote a seminal book called A Nation of Home Owners in 1990 that made a passionate argument for the expansion of home ownership as the choice of most people and as a force for good in promoting community cohesion and civic participation.
As such, you might have thought he’d be completely in tune with David Cameron, George Osborne and Brandon Lewis and their policies to satisfy the 86 per cent of us who want to be home owners.
Originally posted on June 7 on Inside Edge 2, my blog for Inside Housing
With the Housing and Planning Act safely in the bag, ministers must be feeling pretty pleased with themselves – and it shows.
Complaints about controversial parts of the act were swatted away again and again at Communities and Local Government (CLG) questions on Monday with a mix of barely concealed contempt and dodgy statistics. But there were also some reminders of issues that may prove more intractable than the legislation assumes and of one big problem that is about to come to a head.