A CHRISTMAS BREXIT TALE, PART II

by Hannah Rose

The PM placed the Impact Assessment on Effects on Building Site Managers carefully down in front of her, crossed her arms and looked to her cabinet. “This Christmas,” she said, “you all have  homework to do.” I’d like you to read this Impact Assessment, inside out, and all the others, by the 1st January 2018.”

“Every single one ma’am?” The minister for education said, timidly.

“Every single one,” She replied. “And don’t call me ma’am. I’m not the queen—or Margaret Thatcher, God rest her soul.”

*

Aleksander and his father stepped out on Christmas Eve together to take a walk to the supermarket and visit Santa Claus. Outside the supermarket on the ring road, where the traffic regularly congeals at peak times, a larger than life-size inflatable Santa wobbled side to side, as if his legs had been taken out by a footballer in an illegal move and the referee is turning a blind eye, like it’s a conspiracy. Santa continued to grin throughout the assault. He was on a winning streak that night; a martyr to the festive cause. Christmas Eve shoppers batted past him on their determined missions, Santa’s grin invoking none such reaction in them. The wind machine attached to Santa’s feet pumped warm air into him, with no thought given for the legions of extraneous electricity that the world cannot afford but is willing to give—because it was Christmas. Aleksander and his father stood in front of the wobbling Santa and watched him. “He’s not like the Santa back home,” Aleksander said after studying him. “The Santa back home talks to you and lets you tell him what you want for presents.”

“Well, we’re not at home,” his father replied. Then: “I’m sorry Alek, I know it’s not the same.       What would you ask Santa for this year if you could talk to him?”

Aleksander thought carefully and then said: “To see mum and the baby.”

“I’m sorry again, Alek, that I can’t make that happen.”

Aleksander’s father’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He took it out to see who it was and swiftly cancelled the call. “Who was that, dad?” Aleksander asked.

“Just my boss—again.”

“Doesn’t he know it’s Christmas Eve?”  said Aleksander.

“Apparently not,” his father replied. “But this day is for you and me and that’s the most important thing.” All day his boss—the operations manager—had been calling him and leaving messages. He was needed on site today to oversee some last minute changes to the hotel complex which Aleksander’s father was responsible for. The deadline was January 1st but they were behind schedule due to a run of freezing temperatures which had halted everything for a week. Aleksander’s father had told his boss that he needed more builders in order to  keep up with the schedule, but had been met with a laugh of disdain and: “You’ll be lucky—do you know how much self-employed  British builders charge over Christmas?” Aleksander’s father didn’t know how much they charged, but he knew that Polish builders’ rates were considerably less. But there just weren’t as many around as there used to be—since the UK voted to leave the European Union last summer. Sometimes, Aleksander’s father wondered why they ever came here in the first place. But he wasn’t one to not finish something he’d started.

*

It was late on Christmas Eve and the PM was still at her desk in Downing Street. Her husband called to her from the top of the stairs. “Tatty! It’s ten-thirty already and we haven’t done the Christmas stockings yet.” He was met with silence. He continued: “Father Christmas won’t have anywhere to put your presents!”

“I’ll be up in a moment,” the PM called back. She was pouring over one of the Impact Assessments which she’d dangled in front of her cabinet earlier that week. I can’t bear to read this dry stuff, she thought. But if I set this damned homework for that lot, I’d better get myself up to scratch. And they’re already up online for the whole damned electorate to read!  She took a breath and muttered her silent mantra to herself: “Tatty, you are strong and stable, strong and stable.”

“I’ve got a little surprise for you, too,” her husband interrupted. “But you’ll have to come up to the bedroom to get it.” He finished his sentence with a wink, even though she couldn’t see him.

“In a minute, darling!” the PM called back. She kicked off her heels and stretched her toes out and forced herself to read the abstract of the Impact Assessment on Employment and Social Affairs: Facts and Figures one last time, before taking the stairs to her husband who was waiting for her in his Christmas pyjamas.

*

This document provides statistical and factual reference material relating to migration flows between the UK and the rest of the EU. It gives facts and figures relating to the population of EU-27 nationals living in the UK as well as UK citizens living in the EU-27. It also examines the impact of the EU-27 population on the UK’s social security and health care system and gives information on the UK’s uptake of EU funding.

*

On page 58, tucked in Appendix C, the following interview with a CEO of a London-based hotel construction company, lurked:

What keeps this city functioning is the building trade. London wouldn’t be a world leader without it. And people wouldn’t trade here if London wasn’t a world leader—but I’m biased because I’m in the business. Hotels are the way forward, they bring rich people here who get to see all the other buildings going up around them—on the river and next to all the touristy places like that theatre Shakespeare built—and people pouring out of them and spending money left right and centre. Everyone loves Shakespeare because he attracts so much revenue into the city. Then they go home and say to their financial advisers: “I want to build things in London, too, and contribute to this great city of culture, Shakespeare and the Queen and all of that”. And the adviser says, “Great, what you need to do is build hotels,” and that’s when they get in touch with me. Contract signed within a week and we’re ready to start. There are so many social housing high rises, a hangover from the lefty days, which are just crying out to be torn down to make room for our hotels. Hotels are the gifts to the city. Should have done that with Grenfell years ago—would have saved a whole lot of heartache. Anyway, the only way to get these hotels up and the city making money and keeping the country where it should be, is to employ other EU traders. They come cheap, no doubt about that, and they work hard and are ready to start with a day’s notice. But already I have seen my workforce halved since Brexit. It’s mainly the Polish, they got one whiff of a problem and then they up and leave. No integrity, that’s half the problem. The other half of the problem started when this damned referendum was called in the first place.

 

to be continued…

Featured image CC0 via Pexels

 


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