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Nick Bamford: Making use of the off button

I do a fair amount of driving, which is not something I enjoy very much, but is made tolerable by good old Radio 4. In the past two years, though, I have found myself turning the radio off at regular intervals. The reason? That dreaded word – Brexit.

I do not know about you, but I am fed up of listening to politicians bang on about it as if they had the first clue of what the outcome will be.

I have applied the same approach to television as well, changing channels at the first mention of the word. Similarly, with newspapers, racing past the stories on it to the much more exciting sports pages and the ongoing saga of Bristol Rovers’ fight against relegation from League One.

Just after Christmas, I realised this was not a sensible strategy. While good for my mental health, ignoring the debate means having little understanding of the
subject. So, I decided to take some action.

I downloaded the draft Brexit agreement and began to read it. It had 585 pages. I managed to read through 37 before stopping. I stopped because just about every paragraph refers to a part of the EU treaty. To understand the agreement, you would have to cross reference everything to the treaty.

The complexity got me thinking: has every MP with a view on this read the agreement? I suspect not. I imagine they have been given some summary statement by their respective parties on which they are basing their firm views.

On Twitter, I asked whether I was now qualified to be an MP, having read the amount of the agreement I had. The best response: “Don’t be daft, man… you are the new Brexit Secretary!” Thank goodness that is not true.

I imagine that, like me, you find Brexit a topic of conversation with just about every client, regardless of which way they voted.

This morning, I spoke with one who has a holiday home in Majorca. He uses the home a lot but fully intends to be back in the UK by the deadline – whenever that may now be – “just in case”. I have no idea what he thinks might happen if he is not back here.

How on earth have we managed to get to the position we find ourselves in today? I do not know. But life goes on. Whether we are part of the EU or not, our clients will still need our advice. They will still retire, they will still want to consider helping the next generations, will still worry about their future care costs and making sure they get a good return on their hard-earned savings and investments so they can live the lives that they want.

Maybe we should have a further referendum with just two simple choices: read the draft agreement or simply ignore it all. How would you vote?

Nick Bamford is executive director at Informed Choice

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Comments

There are 2 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The number of ill informed people on both sides of the Brexit fence is simply vast (and I include our Honourable Members of Parliament in this). Most haven’t read the agreement and never will, so rely upon an interpretation which may in fact come from a potentially ignorant, possibly knowledgeable (or even misleading or dishonest) player in the Brexit Masquerade be it a politician, commentator or media figure.

    However, this is of course how our democracy works. We, the people, rely upon those who put themselves forward to govern us, to interpret complex issues and come up through debate and discourse with a solution which is on balance in the best interest of the majority of the country. And then vote this through to implement it.

    Ah, I see the problem.

  2. It’s a bit like reading FCA consultation papers, they don’t want to know your opinion as they are sham consultations, they just want to be able to say they consulted and then follow their own preconceptions.
    I started to read about international terrorism (other the Irish) after the fall of the Soviet Union and read about Islamic extremism. I even read the Quoran as it’s quite important to know who is trying to pull your string to make you pull a trigger. I asked to be discharged from the Army as a result in 2000.
    As Nick says, perhaps to be able to vote either way on Brexit, it should be mandatory to read the Brexit agreement and the treaties associated with it. I suspect many people would flip flop if they did.

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