Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Brexit: Will it really happen?

Britain is going for another referendum on June 23rd to decide whether to accept the EU reforms or leave the EU. On the street, people are referring to the referendum as the Brexit and the real question is: Will it really happen?

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I really don’t think so.

Since David Cameron declared that he would re-negotiate the relationship with the EU in 2013, I see the whole process as a well-rehearsed theatrical play. There are some good cops and bad cops in the play, but the agenda and the outcome are very well planned ahead.

The good cops are the ones who are very happy with the “special status” obtained from the EU after hard negotiations led by David Cameron.

This group is very happy, since concessions have been obtained and the UK is now a “privileged” member of the union. Of course, nothing should be shown as having been won easily at someone else’s expense, so there the bad cops kick in and the theatre starts.

The other group of people are still not really happy with the EU after the “special status” and they want the UK to leave the EU regardless.

Within this group, there are two distinct sub-groups: genuine politicians who really want the UK to leave the EU, since they are populist politicians, without calculating the damage to the UK; and the others, there to play the bad cop for the drama or for their own personal interest.

Currently half a dozen cabinet members are in favour of leaving the EU; however, most of the cabinet members want the UK to stay in Europe. Boris Johnson’s decision to campaign to leave the EU was an eye opener for the political arena as well as the financial markets.

Sterling dropped from 1.44 to 1.39 against the US dollar.

If the referendum result is to leave the EU in June, David Cameron will be a definite loser and, since Boris Johnson is the strongest candidate for the Tory leadership, the probability that he will win the most desired seat earlier becomes significantly higher.

It is good to remember that this is not the first time that the British public has voted to stay in or leave the EU, and the Conservatives have a good record of being split on important issues, going back to the late nineteenth century and, more recently, the 1990s, when its own MPs prepared the end of Thatcher’s eleven year premiership. In other words, they opened the door for 13 years of Labour leadership.

The UK is currently the world’s fifth biggest economy and it is the fifth largest spender on defence. The EU takes almost half of the UK’s exports and the UK takes less than ten per cent of the EU’s. A decision to leave the EU will definitely harm both sides and a Brexit will create a more dominant Germany in the EU, which I am not sure many of the member states will be happy to see.

Arguably, it may open the door for other members to re-negotiate their status with the alliance, and the models of Norway or Switzerland could be preferable for future members rather than joining the union.

One may discuss the capabilities of the UK in the current world, but nobody can ignore that Britain is still a top notch leader when it comes to politics.

Why would such a political genius open the door for another referendum for Scotland to leave the UK, financial companies to relocate their headquarters and a huge volume of transactions to move out of the UK, especially at a time when “special status” has already been granted from the EU, thanks to Prime Minister David Cameron?

It is simply another well acted piece of theatre.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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A weekend in London – What would I do?

I lived in London for 7.5 years and I became a true Londoner in this period of time. Since I have been living in Singapore for the last 2.5 years, I sometimes miss London, and whenever I have a chance to go to London, it is a great opportunity for me to get into my old routine for a few days.

What would I do in a weekend in London?

London, the capital, is a place where new ideas are generated so it is a place to visit museums, shows, restaurants but, most importantly, bookstores. You will not get any night life advice here.

In a typical weekend, I would start my day walking to Marylebone: this is my London centre since I lived in Bickenhall Street for 3.5 years.

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Marylebone is a very special place for me as I have a lot of memories of every single corner of it, and my first visit would be Daunt Bookstore on Marylebone.

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Technology is evolving and many argue that books will be history, since a lot of people have already shifted to e-books. Daunt Bookstore definitely fights quite strongly against this idea.

It is a great place for me to spend a couple of hours. It is an Edwardian bookstore with long oak galleries. This bookstore specialises in travel books, but there are other sections such as history and literature. I love to look through its travel books, but I would always buy a history, politics or economics book over a travel book. Since this is my first stop early in the morning, I won’t buy any books but I decide on what to buy on my return.

Now the long walk to Hampstead starts.

I cross the Marylebone Road and reach Regent’s Park, where I spent many of my early mornings and late nights. Through Regent’s Park, I reach Prince Albert Road and then I continue to walk towards Hampstead. The nonstop walk will take about an hour to reach beautiful Hampstead Heath.

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My stop would be at The Wells, a gastropub, by Hampstead Heath. It is a family friendly pub with an evolving menu. I would stop here for an hour or two before heading back to Marylebone to buy the books that I decided to buy earlier.

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I find a lot of similarities between Marylebone and Hampstead Heath. A boutique cinema chain (Everyman) and my favourite bookstore Daunt Books are only two of them. I feel both have distinct characteristics, not like Chelsea, and they are both true London boroughs.

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The time would hit 4–5 pm now and I would have to go and leave my books and maybe rest a bit. I have a lot of favourite restaurants in London, and I would prefer Big Easy on Kings Road, Alounak in Westbourne Grove or a new London restaurant recommended by a friend.

If I could a squeeze in a theatre at night, that’s perfect. Sometimes it is quite difficult, but I would definitely try.

The walk should take about 17–18 km that day. In other words, around 35,000 steps. Not too bad! And thank God that London is flat.

I would wake up as early as possible on my second and final day in London. I would try to go to Trafalgar and Covent Garden, to walk without any aim. Then I would walk to Parliament and would cross Waterloo Bridge.

This would enable me to walk towards London Bridge and should take about 45 minutes. On my way, there are the Tate Modern, a nice pub by the river, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and Vinopolis—which I heard that it is closing down.

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Lunchtime should be about there and I would take a cab or a tube from London Bridge and go to my favourite spot once more, Marylebone. My lunch would take place at Casa Becci, an authentic Italian restaurant run by an Italian family for a long time.

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It is a very simple restaurant and price friendly, but, most importantly, great simple Italian food. My favourite here would be Spaghetti Aglio E Olio.

Unfortunately, the weekend has come to an end. I have to take a flight to continue wherever I need to go. I should walked about 15,000 steps that day, or in other words 10–11 km. Not bad!

London is not an easy city to live in, but it is definitely one of the best!

P.S. Most of my walking sessions started at Chelsea Bridge Wharf over the last three years as my beloved friend, Hakan Dikmen, kept hosting me without grumbling. Thank you, Hakan—you are such a great host!

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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