Brexit - One year on.

It's a year since we woke up, the morning after Midsommar, to find out that the UK had decided to leave the EU.

And what a year it's been.... Lots has been written and will be written about it, and no doubt I'll write something else when I can bear to tear myself away from the car crash that is the current state of British politics.

In the meantime, here is an article that I wrote for The New European about my thoughts post-Brexit: 

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A week before the referendum, I put on a light-hearted Brexit debate at our local faux-English pub. The landlord did a special deal on Fish n' Chips and any beer that had an appropriately patriotic name – Bombardier, Spitfire, London Pride. 

The town's anglophiles and expats squeezed into the mock woodpanelled backroom, with its cricket bats, Toby jugs and foxhunting paraphernalia. In contrast, the mood was decidedly Euro-friendly; we were the cappuccino drinkers, the multi-linguists, the ones who felt equally at home on the Underground, the Métro or the Tunnelbana . This was the debate that wasn't. Without exception we were all pro-Europe. We ate our pub grub and congratulated ourselves on how cosmopolitan we all were. 

A week later, on Swedish Midsommar Eve, I lay awake all night, refreshing the BBC news on my mobile, stunned by how our English pub in Sweden was so far removed from the feelings of over half the UK electorate. 

I spent the next day in a weird parallel. Surrounded by garlanded Swedes, dancing round the Midsommar pole in a picturesque coastal town, friends and strangers alike randomly fired questions at me as the sole representative of all things British. Questions that I had no answer to: Why did the UK vote to leave? Will this be good for Britain? Does this mean you have to leave Sweden? 

Whether Brexit affects my work remains to be seen. Personally, I'm hedging my bets and have applied for dual citizenship. Lucky me, that I can. 

For the comedy scene in Sweden, it's still hard to say. The Swedes love comedy from the UK. The language and references are rarely an obstacle and ease of travel means that it's relatively easy to get London based comedians to come over here. I think Sweden is more of a place to tick off on the internationally minded comedian's map, rather than a circuit to break. The scene here is too small to ever be financially attractive to anyone other than larger touring shows. 

Without hanging on too much of a stereotype, the keenest to come are often the Australian comedians who are living in the UK on a second generation UK passport and they'll probably find a way to travel regardless. 

I can imagine that getting people here could be harder after Brexit: Worst case scenarios could involve work permits, tax for buying a service from a non EU country, higher airfares. But as with everything Brexit related it's all just speculation as nobody from top to bottom seems to have any idea what it will involve in practice. 

Swedes also adore US comedians, whose tours usually hit all the Scandinavian capitals. Logically, if an American can play in non-EU Norway, then it should be possible for Ex-EU Brits to play in Sweden. 

On the other side of the coin, there are more and more Swedes who are making inroads on the UK scene. Even Sweden's biggest stand up stars sit backstage at their sold out shows speaking in hushed dreamy tones of breaking London or The Edinburgh Fringe. I can't see this changing soon, with or without Brexit. 

Qué sera sera as they say in one of those foreign speaking countries in the EU. If anything, more adversity, frustrations and political confusion should ultimately lead to more jokes. I just hope that I'm doing more laughing than suffering.

 

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