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Brexit: A Hard or Soft Divorce?

image depicting divorceDivorces, as a lot of couples know, can be aggressive and hard fought, with a lot of bickering between the aggrieved parties. But on occasions, they can be civil and rather than an acrimonious outcome some couples even go on to be good friends long after the Divorce papers have been signed. Whether it be for the sake of the children, their pets or even the CD collection, divorce can be civilised.

Make no bones about, Brexit is a divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Negotiations start within days of my posting this piece and soon, for at least the next two years, it’s going to either be a hard fought battle or a civilised affair. But divorce it is and there will be two outcomes. A soft Brexit will mean the UK will still have access to the single European market. A hard Brexit will mean the UK will walk and there will be no real agreement between the two parties.

In real life having to live your life either in the UK, or as an expat, how will our divorce from the EU affect the public. Unfortunately, even before the negotiations start, Brexit is already having an impact on life in Britain in one of the key areas that effects the public and is most cherished by the UK public, the National Health Service, better known as the NHS.

In a time when the USA is battling between their two political parties to provide (or not) health care to its public, we in Britain have had universal health care for over half a century. In the main it works, but at peak times of usage, like the winter, operations can be cancelled and resources are badly stretched. Since Britain joined the EU we have had a large influx of EU medical workers coming to Britain to work for the NHS. But that now looks set to stop, or at least stutter to a trickle as it’s been announced EU health workers applying for jobs in the UK is down by a staggering 96% and may stop altogether. People are not going to commit their future to a country that may or may not uphold their rights or may simply kick them out in March 2019.

Even here in Cyprus, we Brits, if retired, get free health care in the main, though there are some parts we have to pay for. Take my wife, Jo, who lost most of the sight in her left eye due to an occlusion, blood clot to you and me, that wiped out her ability to see well in that eye. It will never get better and she has to live with that on a daily basis. But her care is still ongoing, she still has to be checked regularly to ensure her eye problem isn’t getting worse and indeed not starting to affect her right eye. That treatment is ongoing and mostly free. During the height of the initial work on her eye she had drug therapy which we had to pay for, at 200 Euros an injection. But laser treatment was then chosen as the drug therapy failed. The laser treatment would have cost thousands, but it was free because we are UK/EU citizens living in Cyprus, a member country. All that could stop in March 2019.

We, my wife and I, are not getting any younger and the clock for leaving the EU is ticking and the stress will now begin to build on us if agreements between the UK and EU are not made. Yes, we chose to live in Cyprus, but that choice was based on several factors, the main one being the health care. That free healthcare is still available to us, but the referendum in 2016 has now set a ticking time-bomb in motion and the magic-carpet of free health could soon be pulled from under our feet.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Brexit: A Hard or Soft Divorce?

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