Hey there, and welcome to the BigAppleSchool Podcast. My name is Sam.
And today we are asking what’s the craic about Brexit and Trump? Lots of politics, I am sure you’re all excited. I am too. So we’re gonna ask what is Brexit, because we need to clarify that, what it means for British people, how do they feel about it, what problems are connected with it. It is a big topic and it is very serious for people in the UK.
Right, right. That’s the problems within the confederation which is what the EU kinda is.
Then we are gonna delve into Mr. Trump, what does he mean, how amazing he is or how terrible he is.
How he entertains the world with his ideas and his hair.
His hair, which waves in the wind.
Is it a wig, is it not – that’s a huge question.
Maybe. A dead cat. So we will delve into all of that. So let’s go ahead, Brian and ask me hit me.
So, Sam, what is Brexit? Are listeners are dying to know.
Brexit is, surprising or not, it is a completely new word, which just in the last few years…
Can you “brexit” the building?
I would be interested to see that. Because of my past in construction and engineering but I don’t think we can Brexit the building. Or actually, maybe. If there are enough British people in the building they could Brexit, because, well, the word “Brexit” is two words put together, mashed together, crushed together.
it’s the word Britain or Great Britain, in fact, if you want to be politically correct, or most accurate it’s the UK, but “UKexit” doesn’t sound as good as Brexit. So it is the word Britain and Exit. And it’s all about Britain exiting the EU, the European Union, this union that has existed for quite a while in 27, 28 countries, I believe, I may not be correct.
By the way, if anyone listening, if he finds any inaccuracies in what I say about Brexit, you can write them and inform people, that’s okay. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I am I can give my opinion… Are you going to be an expert on Trump?
I am, yes. So save your comments.
I am the most qualified person in the room, but I am not an expert.
Okay, so. Did you vote in the Brexit Referendum? If so, do you mind sharing?
I don’t mind. So normally votes in Northern Ireland are kept secret. Because we have a kind of problem there, still an issue with different sides of the community, people, considering themselves Irish and others that consider themselves British, so we don’t normally like to share our vote because it is a tough… tough thing to share.
But as far as Brexit Referendum, I think I’m safe to say, yes, I did vote in it. It was back if I remember correctly, in June-July 2016. It was definitely 2016, anyway. And I voted to leave.
Yes, I was a leaver. Honestly, I question whether that was the right decision now. But I was confident, that that was what I wanted.
I hear that’s a big struggle for many people, there are many who said post-Brexit that if they were to vote again in the new referendum they would change their ballot.
Yeah, I mean, it was a close call. First of all because it was 52% majority, who voted “yes, let’s get out”. And I think that for most people the reason to leave was because they wanted to control the boarders. Because in the UK people can come and go, I mean, if you are a part of European Union, that means that you are a part of this one big group, state almost, and you can go in and out freely.
Advantage’s that I can go to Germany, France, all these places, Romania, everywhere in the European Union without a visa, without any checks or just showing passport, oh, you’ve got the symbol, great. But for me the issue was not about people coming and going, you know, jobs and economy, the effect that it has.
For me, I have just recently finished my degree, I studied European Law, specifically Tendering. That’s how the government gets the company to do work for them, construction work, and loops that they need to go through in order to get a company to do work for them. And to me, and maybe I am wrong, but to me, reading all the law, connected with that, I thought, wow, this is so complicated.
European Union, the politicians there, have to try to write laws that apply to 28 different places. And they are often quite different places, different culture, different language, although a lot of English is spoken, different geographically, in weather, all kinds of differences between these countries, and I, for me I thought, well, my logic was…
this is bad to try to write laws for all these different places, and it is too much. For me, I thought, let’s get out, so UK can control its own laws and make laws that are simpler for people and for companies. So that was my thinking.
So now, that you kind of seen the Brexit hasn’t been as expedient or as quick as people thought maybe in the beginning, what do you think about the process is played out?
I think it is safe to say that most people including myself are a little bit disappointed or maybe a lot disappointed, because it’s not gone smoothly at all. It’s still not happened after the deadline. Well, so what happened was – people voted, the majority was “yes”. I think it was a big shock to some politicians, especially David Cameron, who was then the Prime Minister.
He, I think, he expected people to say “no”. And in fact, if I am correct, there was a referendum back a few years prior in Ireland and they said “let’s stay in”. And so I think he was very confident that people would vote “Let’s stay in” and they said “no”.
And then, of course, there was Scottish Independence movement, as well.
So it was a big shock, but they put in... they filed, how can I say it simply, they filed for divorce, let’s say, on March, the 29th in 2017. So when you do that you have 2 years to implement and to get out, basically. So it is what happens in European Union is, you have 2 years to adopt laws and to organize all the laws, fit them to your country.
And basically they were given 2 years to figure out how they were going to leave, what kind of policies, how they divorce settlement and how they will trade with European Union. And it hasn’t worked. They haven’t been able… the politicians in the UK haven’t been able to agree with the divorce, if you like, with the deal that was proposed.
Right. So then, that kin of brings us to our next question: knowing what we know now, is Brexit still a good idea? Why or why not?
When I voted, I understood, I didn’t understand many things and in fact, I mean, I didn’t have the hindsight of what would happen, but I understood that it would have a negative effect, at least in a short term. And I was willing to except that.
Maybe a drop of napalm, or…
Yeah. So, I was willing to except that it would have some negative effect on the economy in the short term and maybe it’s selfish because I then left and came to Russia. And my mom was like, “hey, why are you voting when you going off to Russia?” I mean, it might not directly affect me. But even so, I felt it was worth leaving, because for me… I feel, and maybe I am wrong, but I feel like the Union is not sustainable because of the very different countries.
Maybe I am wrong, I think it’s very hard to say one way or the other, because we don’t know the future. No one can predict what will happen or what won’t happen, even the best politicians and economists don’t know. And it’s such a complex issue because every business is effected differently. If you are a local business which only operates in the UK, it could actually be a benefit to you to have the separation from Europe.
Depending on who you employ.
Depending on who you employ. If you are not employing people from Europe, if you’re only working with local people and local suppliers, if you are selling just to British people and working only exclusively within the boarders of the UK.
Then it can be a benefit to you. Because you’ll have less competition. Potentially. But if you’re a bigger company that’s got big ties to your up and you’re importing and exporting it could have a negative effect though.
Yeah. I do question whether it’s still a good idea, to Brexit if you like. But I think it’s too complicated an issue to say yes or no to that.
Union, I would use the word union.
Union it’s a confederation. I mean, it’s got a governing body, it’s independent sovereign nations and a confederation fits both of those parameters.
I feel.. Well actually if you look at, I think if you look at our passport and I have, by the way, I have an Irish passport. Because I was born in Northern Ireland, I can claim either a British passport, or an Irish, or both at the same time.
It’s part of the peace agreement from 1998 that anyone born in Northern Ireland can claim those. And actually when we leave I still will have a European union passport, because I’ve an Irish passport. Which, again, might be a little bit selfish to…
But it wasn’t affecting when I voted.
But I think when you look at the passport it’s actually treated, I don’t the word, because I don’t have my passport in front of me, but each country is treated like a state, part of that union. And you have this government overall, the European union government, which is kinda like a chief sovereign.
And each country is kinda like, I guess, you could say like, I think I’m right to say it’s like a state in the US, they’re little states.
Except the difference is in the US, let’s say for example Texas, wants to secede from union, which’s been thrown around a couple of times. They can’t legally do that. Whereas Great Britain is given the latitude to do that, and Greece, if we remember back to the economic issues in Greece.
They kept borrowing money from Germany and France, from the EU central bank. And then when they were told to pay back, they just kept saying ‘Nope, not gonna do it’. And they said ‘Well, impose some measures and they said ‘Nope, not gonna do either’. And then the EU said ‘so what can we do?’ and the answer was – nothing.
So there is more freedom.
Yes. Which is why I would say it’s confederation because if you look at US history, you had the confederacy, where each independent state had its own army, and operated as independence functionaries I guess you could say, with then a confederate army as a whole.
But the generals and the governors of their states had no real loyalty outside of the fact they wanted to work together to defeat the union army. So honestly it’s more like a confederacy in that sense. Just like EU. Not the EU, but the United Nations where if Russia says ‘we don’t want to pay sanctions’, the UN can’t say ‘you have to’. Russia will say ‘We’re not gonna pay’.
There’s no ultimate sovereignty.
No. So, sovereignty lies with those lower states.
Yeah. And there’s article 50 in the European law allows the UK to get to Brexit.
Okay, so there we are. And there’s article 50 in the constitution that says ‘if California is mad and wants to form into five states, they can do that’.
I never knew that about the US, Texas could potentially…
They can, but they won’t to legally.
They cannot legally, they would have to declare themselves an infinite state, the US would have to recognize their sovereignty which they would never do. And that would probably cause another war between the US and Texas, and Texas would have to ally with someone like Mexico, which would be odd combination to go back to 1854 for Mexican-American war again. But anyway…
Do many people in Texas speak Spanish?
Yes, it is really the second most common language in Texas for sure and in many areas you find more Spanish than English, especially if you’re close to the border, and my hometown of San Antonio, where you could say arguably more people speak Spanish than English is very close.
Very close, yes. So the next question – who wins with Brexit? Who is the winner? If they do finally Brexit?
The UK, as I see it, is gonna have negative effects. I think, I mean, it depends on the deal, and they haven’t decided the deal yet, and there are a lot of issues with that. Honestly, if it’s a bad deal, EU could lose and the UK could lose as well.
And whether or not another country or global economy will be negatively affected, I don’t know, but it could be bad for both EU and the UK. Especially if there’s no deal and the UK just leaves and that’s it.
And of course with the unstable Europe you could say it could be a global issue.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’s a huge part of the world, and a lot of rich countries are connected with it. And the dealing with lots of places in the world. So, I mean, it’s gonna have some effect on the world stage.
For sure. So what are people concerned in the UK most about with Brexits?
The impression I get, although I’m not living in the UK, is the people are sick hearing it. I mean, if you’re not a politician, and I guess if you’re a politician you’re probably sick hearing about it too. Brexit Brexit Brexit. If you’re watching the news, you’re probably sick of the word Brexit. I suspect my parents are probably sick of the word Brexit.
And sick of the fact that it’s not solved yet. And what I should say as well is some of the issues, and some of the biggest issues that’s holding it back is Northern Ireland where I’m from. Because there is a land border, it’s the only land border between the European union. When the Brexit happens it’ll be the only border between European Union and the UK.
And this is got some history. Because there was a lot of terrorism and stuff in the Northern Ireland. There are a lot of strong opinions on whether Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK or whether it should go back to being part of Ireland as it was historically, pre sort of 1920ish time. And there are sort of mixed views in Northern Ireland – some…
around half of the people would love it to be part of Ireland again, and another half want it to stay in the UK. And when you… As part of the peace agreement back in the 1998, there was a peace agreement called ‘Good Friday agreement’, which meant these passports that I told you about, the Irish passports, a UK passport you can have.
But it also meant that this border was open and free. You can travel without… There are no checks, you can go back and forth all day on this border, along the road or walking, whatever you want to do. You can go back and forth with no checks at the moment. But how is that gonna work is one of the big questions, how’s that gonna work in the European union. This is what’s holding it back actually.
Isn’t there also, just a point out, maybe I’m wrong, isn’t Gibraltar a Great Britain territory?
And doesn’t it border Spain?
So wouldn’t that be two land borders between EU and the UK? And doesn’t that cause problems because there are many migrants who come from Northern Africa to Spain. And if they knew….
What makes Northern Ireland unique is not the fact that there’s a land border, but the fact that it’s connected with peace.
Ah, yes. And that’s unprotected, unguarded, yes yes, of course.
And that’s a huge thing. And if you close down that border, it’s gonna affect the economy between the two countries, because there’s small region and a small country. And it’s gonna have a huge effect. It’s not just about money, it’s also about peace.
And it’s a really heated debate about that. And I think maybe a lot of British people aren’t very worried about that, but for Northern Irish people that’s a huge deal. That’s a big thing.
Yes. So let’s go to Trump and I think you have a question for me.
We’re Brexiting Brexit. There’s more we could say, but we don’t wanna bore people. We really want to talk more about our lovely man with the wavy hair.
When did Donald Trump start his presidency?
Officially Donald Trump started his presidency on January 21st of 2017. But he won back in November, so there’s a gap, between the elections and the beginning of the presidency term…
2016. 2017 was a great year for show business I guess. Or for, you know, satire against the United States, I’m sure. And ever since then it’s been a wild ride of Donald Trump and his whatever you wanna call it.
There’s never a dull moment.
No, no, never. My students back in the states never tired of talking about what crazy thing Donald Trump was doing now. Or have you heard the recent tweet that he had against Kin Jong Un or …. or anyone, really.
Do you think he is good for the tourist economy? Do they want to go just to listen, feel the culture that he’s created?
I don’t know that people will ever go to the states to see, hear, be near, experience the greatness of Donald Trump. I think people still like to go to the United States for the same reasons they did before, which is because people think the US is some kind of standard, or that it offers some kind of life that they can’t get elsewhere.
And you’ve lots of… I should say, lots of Irish people went for the American dream.
They did. They really did. I mean people all around the world have gone to the states. It’s still the number one place for immigrants more than any other country, with the Syrian migration going to the European union. The US still tops the list, yes.
When does this presidency finish?
Okay, it’s a four year term, so it’s gonna finish January 19th 2021 officially.
Will he get another term in office?
You know, right now the reports say yes. Because the economy is strong, it’s stronger than it’s been before president Bush was in office, the second president Bush who started in 2000, right. Actually in 2001 he started his presidency. But there are many people who would say no, obviously, the democrats are not fans of Donald Trump, and people who support democrats, their policies in the United States don’t normally like Donald Trump.
But many researchers, statisticians, people that have followed presidencies and go back and do algorithms and things like this, they say right now, unless he just completely tanks the economy in a really horrific way, unless he does that – even with many of his controversial stances, what he said, how he’s been in the public eye…
there’s no way he’s going to lose it back, people say it’s going to be a landslide. And of course if you look at how fragmented the democratic party is, how they don’t really have a good frontrunner for who they’re gonna put up against him.
If there was a strong name, that was known and someone who had a proven track record, like a formative democrat president, like a vice-president people liked, maybe. But right now he is not running away.
Wow. Okay. And what do you think of… maybe I should ask who did you vote… Can I ask who you voted for? Is that a secret?
Of course you can. No, it is not a secret. In fact, my students would ask me all the time. When I was teaching at the time they would say ‘you voted for Trump, didn’t you?’ And I asked ‘Why? Because I’m white?’ And they said ‘yes’, that’s wrong. So I didn’t vote for Trump, I didn’t vote for Hilary, I voted for republicans in the past, I voted for democrats in the past.
I don’t like to pick a party. I voted for Gary Johnson – he was a libertarian candidate. And honestly I knew he wasn’t going to win, people said so then kind of like your parents said – why would you vote for Brexit if you’re leaving? People would say ‘why would you vote for Gary Johnson if you know he’s not gonna win, that’s a vote for Donald Trump or that’s a vote for Hilary Clinton’.
No, because neither got to count my vote in their box. So I voted for Gary Johnson, a protest vote. I thought and I still think that both the republican and the democrat parties have a lot of work to do to regain any kind of trust I would have in them.
And so I voted for him not because I thought he would win, but because I wanted the other parties take note of the fact that they are losing support from people who would consider themselves moderate or middle of the road voters.
Okay. Fair enough. Interesting. What controversial policies has Trump supported?
Oh what controversial policies hasn’t he supported? I mean where should I start? We don’t have enough time to go through everything. So we’ll start with the fact that he wanted to build a border wall. And ever since he got elected his big thing has been ‘build the wall’.
And of course some like it, some don’t, some feel like the wall isn’t really an issue, we’re talking about immigration, that there’s a bigger issues with visas. And what about the wall with Canada? Why don’t we build the wall there? And what about a wall between us and the Atlantic and Pacific oceans? Build wall there as well, people…
Yeah exactly. How far do you go? So that was a policy, it’s still an issue today. He is angry that people and sports don’t stand for the national anthem, they want to kneel as a protest against racism and inequality in the United States.
He’s issues with North Korea, the rant nuclear deal, the fact the he wants to, no, not wants to, but he pulled out of the …… cords – there are numbers of things.
Taxes and stuff. He’s trying to tax more different countries.
Right. With China and, you know. But in essence every politician is going to do things that people don’t always like. I mean, if you look at Macron – when he came to power in France, very popular. And now you have yellow vest protests.
If you look at Justin Trudeau in Canada – very popular, and he’s got people fighting back against him for his policies. Theresa May who was supposed to solve Brexit and we just talked about Brexit. It’s not yet solved.
I don’t think you’re going to find a politician who does everything right. Politics is not about being perfect. It’s about negotiating what’s best for the country. And even if you don’t believe in them…
It’s not even always popular.
No. If a country benefits, then who are we to say he’s doing a poor job? I mean, okay.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating.
Correct. People still go to the states. Dollar is still traded around the world more than any other currency. And American economy is stronger than it was 8, 12 or 16 years ago, so. If that’s a failure, then we could say that he failed. If we’re going to focus on social issues, sure, that is not his strong suit.
People who voted for him didn’t vote for social issues, they voted on economic issues and immigration, which I think are two things. He’s trying to address the immigration being broken in the United States.
Do you think that he’s changed America in any way? And is it positive or negative overall?
I think that people either like him or hate him, which, again, is always a thing with politicians.
Let me pause it. Do you know Marmite or Vegimite?
There’s a kind of slogan, especially for Marmite in the UK. Vegimite’s Australian, and Marmite is the UK. And we have a slogan for it – you either love it or hate it. I think it’s how they promoted it actually.
And it kind of – when you talked about Trump, he’s like Marmite for everybody. You either love him or the him, you can’t be like just passive, like ‘he’s okay’.
Right. Like anchovies on a pizza.
I guess so. I’ve never eaten them but I think I wouldn’t like them.
You wouldn’t like them. You’ve already decided. Wow. You never know.
Not a big… They’re little fish.
I think I…. Aren’t anchovies sardines?
Cause the sardines come from small metal can. I’m not a big fish lover.
I love fish, I love it. But anyway. Has he changed America in any way? I think America is more divided politically and socially than it has been in a long time. And that is not good.
That’s one reason I would find myself more apolitical than anything else align with the party. And that I believe is negative for sure. Divisiveness in a country is never good in my opinion, especially when it goes long-term and it just festers.
The divided state of America.
Yeah, it’s just not good. And that would be negative. Overall positive impact, like I would say earlier, the economy is definitely positive, moving in the right direction, in my opinion. So. Well there comes our last question – which is worse? Brexit for the UK or Trump for the US?
So, how do we vote? How do we do it? Do we do it on a points scale?
But you have more questions.
Okay. So. Well, if I can… Brexit… Well at the moment of recording it hasn’t happened yet.
Nope. Trump is still a president.
It’s still up in the air.
We don’t know about its effects. If I’ve a right to say, I think that so far there’s been a huge negative effect that we haven’t Brexited.
We haven’t left. So it still remains to be seen how negative It will be. I, as I said, it will be negative, it’s just a question of how negative and for how long. It’s gonna be negative at least short-term, maybe some would even say medium-term. It’s gonna affect the economy specifically.
And it depends on how good a deal we will be between the EU and the UK. For me as a northern Irish person it will… one way or another it’s gonna have some effect in Northern Ireland, I just hope that it doesn’t create conflict as has happened in the past.
I hope that doesn’t kick off again. So, if conflict happens, I will go back and say I wish I’d never voted. Yes, to leave. As for the economy if it’s short-term, especially if it’s short term, negative effect on economy. We can bear with it, we can live with that, because that happens anyway, with the sanctions or natural things.
I think there’s a cost to pay to leave the union and to have our own independence and freedom to control. And if we do leave and in the end have the freedom to make our own laws without a lot of supervision and control from the European Union…
and that by the way depends on the deal, because the deals could be that we don’t have so much control even though we do leave. But if we leave and have control and things are comfortable and peaceful in Northern Ireland, and even if there’s negative economic effect, if it’s short term, I think it’s okay.
It will be overall for me, my personal opinion, it will be okay. It will be worth it. So, at the moment I would say it’s okay for the UK. It’s what the UK people overall wanted, although it’s only a small majority.
It’s not comfortable at the moment – people aren’t happy, they’re waiting to see what will happen and they’re like impatient, of course. And frustrated with the politicians, but I think in the end only time will tell, but I’m gonna say it’s 50/50.
Okay. And so in that case I would have to agree with you, because Trump has been president now for over two years and so he will be more negative because we know some of the results of his presidency. Not the overall results and not the impact in long-term future, but he’s been president.
And many would say he’s been the worst president ever. At least in modern history, so I would say that Trump has been worse for the US because, like we said, Brexit hasn’t happened yet. And since he has been president, we’ve seen some of the side effect of his election. It’s been worse. So yes, I think we will have to agree and say Trump in the US has been worse than Brexit.
Even though there’s economic benefit from him, it’s the divisiveness.
Yes, I would say the divisiveness is just untenable and something’s going to happen in the US and something needs to happen to bring us together again as a nation. So, we’ll see what that is.
Okay. So there you have it – we talked about what is Brexit, we talked about issues and problems, some of them at least, and specifically about Northern Ireland. How people will feel or do feel. And then we talked about Donald Trump.
When he came at office, what we think will happen in the future. What effect he has had in America. And we concluded that Trump is worse than Brexit. So that was the craic about Brexit and Trump.