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By Morak Babajide-Alabi
The blistering heat wave experienced in the continent of Europe last week brought a topic that momentarily pushed discussions about the BREXIT negotiations to the back bench. There were various concerns about the direction of the negotiations, but the heat wave was the hottest topic. It is no surprise though, as the wave is pushing this season to a record-breaking hottest summer in recent years.
The Metrological Office staff did not take anything for granted as they constantly issued warnings for most of the regions of the UK. As a responsible agency, it sensitised citizens on how best to survive the heat wave – dress sense, drinking water, and use of sunscreen lotions. The staffs have been kept busy monitoring the thermometers and closely watching and collecting data to compare with historical data on record. Although the temperature did not hit the forecast of 37C (98F), there were loads of sweats, transport delays and disruptions.
There were a few fire outbreaks in the UK. However, none was as devastating as witnessed in Greece. Eighty people were reported dead from the fire that swept through a coastal eastern resort of Mati. It was a horrible experience for the Greeks as many residents jumped into the sea to survive while some more died from suffocation while trying to escape in their cars or were trapped on the edge of steep cliffs. The event prompted three-day mourning while the nation buried the dead.
The effect of global warming is on a high scale this year. It is always on the rise, and it is beginning to be felt all over the world on devastating levels. In Japan, at least 65 deaths have been recorded as the country’s weather agency declared the heat wave that hit the country a natural disaster. Last week, officials reported more than 22,000 people, nearly half of which were elderly, were taken to hospital with heat stroke.
While some parts of Japan were reporting 41.1C (106F), the UK had the hottest day of this summer on Thursday with temperatures hitting 35.1C in Wisley, Surrey. In some parts of the world, these are normal temperatures in tropical conditions. However, in countries where the temperature sometimes goes as low as -10c, an abnormal rise in temperature is a major inconvenience for residents. The houses and infrastructures are not designed for temperatures such as we are getting now.
BREXIT ON HEAT
There are two UK residents who are extremely feeling the heat right now. Theresa May, the Prime Minister and her BREXIT Secretary, Dominic Raab would be wishing it is winter period. For Raab, his “baptism” came, the day he was announced as the replacement for the experienced David Davis. We recall that Davis resigned his post after the Chequers BREXIT agreement of July 6. Not long after, Boris Johnson, the former foreign secretary threw in the towel.
One may say the PM is always under the heat. But in recent times, she is getting double for her troubles. Her Premiership is under strain by the extra burden of the BREXIT. Ever since she got “gifted” with the position, the BREXIT noose has been hanging over her head. Considering the fact that she still has to maintain her balance despite the pushes and shoves from the rebels within her government, she may think she is not doing badly. It’s not been easy though as all her efforts seem to be falling on the wrong sides of the rebels and the EU bureaucrats in Brussels.
The resignation of Davis was an opportunity for her to take over the negotiations and steer it the way she has always wanted. She allowed the fresh-faced Raab get used to the seat in the new office and thereafter announced that she would be the main “driver”. If Raab had thought he would have same responsibilities of office as Davis, he got the biggest shock of his political life.
Raab may be trying to maintain a hard man’s image; there is no doubt that his ego has been deflated. May literally took the chair off his bottom. While May leads “the negotiations” she and Raab “will be supported by the Cabinet Office Europe Unit and with this in mind the Europe Unit will have overall responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the negotiations, drawing upon support from DExEU and other departments as required.” So what are Raab’s responsibilities, you may ask?
Raab was in Brussels on Thursday to meet with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. He “confided” in Barnier that the UK still has a lot of work to do. Barnier, an experienced French politician, maintained the diplomatic stoic look, but you could see the struggle to hold himself in so he did not burst into sarcastic laughter. Barnier is one of the problems keeping Mrs May awake at night as he seems very hard to please individual who takes delight in the misery of others.
It is also not out of place to think there is a gang up by certain individuals or “gods of the EU” to derail the exit. Ever since the result of the 2015 referendum was announced the planning towards the final goal has been “unprofessionally” handled. There are now different versions of BREXIT. We have the “soft-BREXITEERS” who are fighting hard so the “hard-BREXITEERS” do not have their ways. There are also the Eurosceptics. And also in a corner are the confused citizens who cannot make a head or tail of all the noise about BREXIT.
Most citizens are beginning to doubt a favourable conclusion to these negotiations. If you are one of these latter-day sceptics, there is no award or trophy for you. You have indeed come to the party rather late. If you had voted leave thinking it was going to be as simple as signing a few dotted lines and phew, the country is out, I feel your dismay. But you are just one out of many in the 51.89% that voted leave and have realised that it is not as easy as they were made to believe.
For the “remainers”, there is still hope that the country may be back in the continental union. There is the renewed push for a second referendum. The belief is that the electorate would be far wiser if given the second opportunity.
The reality of a second referendum is slim though. But with May’s government angling for a “no deal” exit, one can say anything is still possible. You may think it is irresponsible of a government to be negotiating for a “no deal”, but the argument is that this is better than a hushed and one-sided deal that will put the UK in a disadvantaged position.
If you see May or Raab at your local store, they may be stockpiling food in readiness for the “no deal” deal. Don’t ask them why, instead grab a shopping basket and get yourself a few essentials that come from Europe, especially if you love shopping in Aldi and Lidl.
May had said in an interview with the UK’s Channel 5: “Far from being worried about preparations that we are making, I would say that people should take reassurance and comfort from the fact that the government is saying we are in a negotiation, we are working for a good deal. I believe we can get a good deal, but, it’s right that we say – because we don’t know what the outcome is going to be – let’s prepare for every eventuality.”
As written for the Diaspora Matters column, Sunday Vanguard July 29, 2018