I’m at Stansted Airport, on my way to Germany for the week.
I’m flying to Berlin, taking a train to Potsdam, another to Hannover on Thursday morning, then flying back on Friday evening.
It’s all perfectly easy. I arranged the dates of my visit a couple of months ago with my client. I bought the plane and train tickets online. I’ll have to show my passport at the gate, shortly, but apart from that, nobody will ask me what I’m doing or where I’m going. I haven’t had to ask anyone’s permission – I’m just getting on with my job.
When I get back, I’ll prepare an invoice, and my client will pay me online. I’ll pay my taxes, and my client will pay theirs. No hassle. My client gets the help they need; I get paid; nobody else gets involved.
This could be my last trip like this.
After the end of March 2019, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this work, without a visa, or other paperwork. I don’t know if I’ll have to be independently registered with the German tax authorities. I don’t know if I’ll have to justify what I’m doing when I arrive at the airport. I don’t know if my mobile data and call allowance will just work with no additional charges.
I’m in the people business. I won’t be able to work like this if Britain leaves the EU with no deal. It’s not even clear if I’ll be able to work like this with the Chequers deal.
This isn’t project fear. This is project pay the mortgage. I don’t think either of these scenarios are what leavers voted for in 2016. Also, the irony isn’t lost on me that I’m flying from an East Anglian airfield to Germany, a hundred years to the day since the end of the First World War.
But it’s not too late. It’s not too late to stop this Brexit horror show. No sane person can think that either of the two options ahead are better than what we have at the moment. The EU is far from perfect, and our relationship with the EU is far from perfect. But we can make it better. And we can definitely avoid making it much, much worse.