When the chips are down…

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine.

When the chips are down:  at a time of crisis (Collins Dictionary) . There are similar meanings to be found in other dictionaries… and there’s also this one: When you are in a very difficult or dangerous situation, especially one that makes you understand the true value of people or things…

In a very difficult situation…That’s how it was yesterday, and will be for the foreseeable future, for me and for millions of other people who live in the UK. The EU Referendum that took place across the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Thursday 23rd June 2016 was for the people to decide democratically if they wished to remain in the European Union (EU), or leave the EU.


EU flag
EU Flag

What’s the European Union all about? The initial European Coal and Steel Community, formed in 1950, had only 6 member states. Their aim was to unite their countries, economically and politically, after the bloodbath of WW2 and to create a peaceful time in which good trade would exist between them as neighbours. The ideal that wealth could be distributed better to those most needy across their community was an amazingly wonderful concept – not easy to effect, but not impossible either. The group was renamed as the European Economic Community in 1957 and was sometimes referred to as ‘The Common Market’http://europa.eu/about-eu/eu-history/index_en.htm  The number of member states grew to 9 when the UK joined with Denmark and Ireland in 1973. In the intervening years since 1973, the number of member states has grown – the present being 28, though there are a number of new applications to join. It has never been a simple matter to join the EU because each applying state is required to fulfil rigorous criteria before entering as a member.


The EU is like many organisations: you put money in and receive money back but it’s also about a lot more than that. Each EU member state contributes to the fund and each receives money back but not necessarily the same amount they put in. That sounds simple, even trite, but the EU is an exceedingly complicated business machine. There are many different reasons for the amount each state contributes and for how the pot of gold is redistributed. The fair redistribution of wealth is still an ideal but with many more member states trying to access the money pot, there’s no doubt that it has become cumbersome and bureaucratic. Many reciprocal arrangements have had to be made to accommodate the differences between the states. Regular updates to situations take ages and that’s not ideal, yet, isn’t surprising either. Cross border co-operation is essential for many of the opportunities that arise within the EU.


The EU isn’t perfect but for some parts of the EU the money paid back is thankfully received and well spent. The money my country of Scotland has received from EU coffers is a necessary part of our economics. We are one of the geographical areas which gets more back from the EU than we seem to pay in.

Why does that happen?  We still have many deprived areas which need extra funding to improve local situations. EU funding is also designed to encourage a programme of sustainable economic growth across the whole of Scotland. Another reason we get the money from the EU is because Scotland (as a region) doesn’t get that level of support funding from the UK parliament in Westminster, London for the improvements needed. Huge amounts of UK funds go to improve the infrastructure all over the UK- in particular the SE of England where the bulk of the UK population live. (Travel on roads in Scotland and you’ll see how they differ from the motorways of London and the South East of England!)

I’ve also benefitted personally from being a member of the EU. I’ve been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to live in another EU country (Holland) for a few years between 1979 and 1982. While my husband was out beavering away at work every day in Holland, I was busy giving birth to, and rearing my two daughters. My healthcare, and that of the whole family, was easily arranged since we had an agreement under EU regulations. (In the UK we receive FREE health care and it was the same for us in Holland) All other official requirements for us to live there (like Visas/Tax/ Social Security payments) were easy to arrange under reciprocal agreements within the EU.

Heidelberg once moreMy daughter studied at Heidelberg University (Germany) for a year, the funding for the fees coming from reciprocal programmes of education within the EU. If my Fiona hadn’t been in Heidelberg, I wouldn’t have written my contemporary mystery – Topaz Eyes – because Heidelberg is where it all starts. And co-incidentally, the main female character was also a student at Heidelberg University- fancy that! The 3 shadows above are of myself, my daughter Fiona and my other daughter Sheena as we looked down the River Neckar. (The photo was taken on one of my school vacation trips when we went to check up on how Fiona was doing!…and to enjoy some tasty German beer.)

It’s been easy to travel anywhere in the EU with a British passport due to EU border control arrangements. That might change now. I really hate the idea that my children and grandchildren might be denied the opportunities that I’ve had if Scotland is pulled out of the EU against our wishes.

 So why am I now in a difficult situation? The Recent Referendum result across the whole of the UK was a fairly narrow margin in favour of leaving the EU (51.9% for leave and 48.1% for remain) However, that’s where my personal dilemma begins because Scotland wholeheartedly chose to remain in the EU (38% for leave and 62% for remain) As a Scot, I now face a lot of uncertainty during the coming months, and years, because the choices made about the EU Referendum highlight other deep-rooted problems between what is now a very divided and not a particularly ‘United Kingdom’.another

You’ll find a lot more Referendum information and maps HERE.

It’s fairly clear from the map that Scotland has a very different view on what the EU does for us than what is felt in England and Wales. Scotland wishes to remain a member of the EU and to effect that it may mean we have to become an independent country. That situation would totally delight me, though I’ve no desire for any of the nasty backbiting and fall-out which may be part of any future break-up from the rest of the UK. Scotland is an outward looking country- and we look to all directions in the same frame of mind.

In my #Celtic Fervour Series of historical novels, the tribes of northern Britannia are also very different from those of the southern areas. My northern tribes of ‘Scotland’ are naturally geographically more remote from those of the south. They don’t have the same obvious metal wealth (gold, silver, copper jewellery and coinage) as southern tribes. It would have been a much more difficult job for the Romans to extract natural resources like iron from the rocks of the Grampian Mountains, than it was to mine the  more easily accessible lead, iron and copper from the mines of ‘Wales’ or ‘south-west England’. The northern tribes have fewer  easily gained material resources (crops, manpower to become slaves) that were prized by the invading Roman Armies. I’m currently writing about how the Army of Agricola, in AD 84, is comparing the ‘deprived’ wilderness of the Caledon Mountains to the more populated ‘civilised’ areas around Londinium which are by then already Romanised! (wink, wink)

You know what? – I’m going to forget about the current political situation and enjoy writing more of my current novel tonight!

Whatever you’re doing this weekend I hope you don’t have to face any really difficult choices.

Nancy Jardine’s writing includes: Historical Romantic Adventures; Contemporary Romantic Mysteries and Historical Time-Travel for Teens.

The_Taexali_Game_Cover_for_KindleNancy Jardine finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.


3 mysteries wordshttp://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.com/   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

CFS wordsAmazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:   http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.








20 thoughts on “When the chips are down…

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Nancy. It was quite informative and yes, I knew what was happening with the UK and the EU but you helped put things in perspective. I can’t even imagine what you must be going through. It must be nerve-wracking wondering what lies ahead for Scotland, and I agree, it’s especially troubling to think about how it will affect your children and grandchildren. I guess only time will tell, and as you say, you may as well work on your novel in the meantime!


    1. Thank you, Sarah. There’s so much more to the whole business – a book’s worth indeed. Time will tell what happens.


  2. Change is not easy. I also appreciated your taking the time to explain the ins and outs from the perspective of one who experiences it. That is priceless.

    Best to you on your novels and dealing with the “chips are down” events. Doris


  3. Thanks Nancy, I too have been hearing about the changes, but I didn’t know exactly what the changes would be. I hope everything works out well for your children and their children. Please keep us posted. We all care about you. Cher’ley


    1. Thanks, Cherley- it’s lovely to have your support. It’s a challenging time and I predict the going isn’t going to be that easy. Politics can be such a messy business.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chinese proverb: We live in interesting times. It would really be weird to live in the U.S. if all 50 states were independent nations. Might need passports, have to go through border checkpoints, etc. I was watching a news show that looked back at the origins of the EU, going all the way back to 1946 and a speech by Winston Churchill calling for a United States of Europe to prevent the fervent nationalism of the early 20th Century that caused two world wars from bringing on a third world war and nuclear armageddon. I’d hate to see the EU get truncated even more and Putin-types take power in other European countries. Hopefully, more than 70 years after World War II, those days won’t come again. These post Great Recession days of slow growth seem to be spurring some of the difficulty, just as the Great Depression’s bad economic times helped bring Hitler to power.


    1. You express plenty of fears there, Mike. Although more concerned with economic benefits the EU has been a stabilising factor for decades. I’d hate for that to decline. Opening up what had been former ‘iron curtain’ countries like The Czeck Republic has been a very good thing for tourists. I visited around 1995, a few years after the ‘doors’ were opened and Prague is a fabulous city. would be a shame for that access to be made more difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The vote has to be so frustrating for Scotland. And it is provoking so much turmoil. Guess we’ll all have to just wait it out. I understand some people are pushing for a second go round, citing that the percentage of voters was too low–less than 75%. Be interesting to see the results if you voted again.
    Our younger daughter has been living and working in London for over 5 years and just got her UK citizenship a couple of months ago, specifically so she’d be able to work in other EU countries. She’s rather bummed, to say the least.
    Good luck with your writing and everything.


    1. Ah, that’s going to be a trying time for your daughter, Kate. As I wrote above, the reciprocal agreements made working within the EU so much easier. I’m crossing my fingers that a good outcome will result for Scotland since our First Minister is pushing for Scotland to remain in the EU since we have been pro- EU for a long time. I don’t see another Referendum happening soon on the EU but it does appear that some who voted to leave were maybe not well enough informed and now want to change their minds.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for a very informative post, Nancy — I’ve been wondering how all this will affect the different nations, and the EU as a whole, and therefore, also America. We live in very interesting, and for me, troubling times, but one thing is for sure: the one constant in life is change. I hope you accomplished a lot of writing this weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I could say yes to the writing, Gayle, and I’ve done some – but I was too distracted to be really productive. Yes, there is a whole lot of change coming and it could be that there are reverberations around the world in the stock markets etc.


  7. I’m glad your writing about this turbulent political time led you right into your novel and inspired you to write! That was informative. Since I don’t dabble much in politics I was curious about the EU but very ignorant. I appreciate the insight and do keep us posted. I have a friend over here from Scotland also.


    1. Thanks, Neva. I’ve only given a tiny glimpse of what the EU does for me personally and there’s a lot more to it. I hope your friend has a good holiday. I’m heading to the US at the end of Aug and I’m thinking my sterling /dollar conversion might be a bit unpredictable.


  8. Thank you for sharing. You explained the situation rather well and I now have a better understanding of what is going on. I think the best course of action is to go about your life and just keep a watchful eye on how things develop.


    1. I wish I could take you advice, S J. but today in particular I feel like a political groupie. I keep breaking off from my writing ( It’s not a childminding day) to watch live Scottish Parliament coverage but things WILL move on.


  9. I know what the EU is and had a general concept of what it meant that the UK was voting over whether to leave or stay, but your post clarified several things for me. Thank you. What reason do those who voted to leave have for their stance, though? Is it that the rest of the UK gets less back then Scotland does?


      1. Many people who voted to leave have racist issues over levels of immigration- whereas Scotland is much more inclusive about immigration and welcomes the people who settle and work in our country. Though Scotland gets more EU aid than some English regions, Wales gets even more from the EU. We don’t get so much from the UK Government as other areas of England do, even though our exports (Scottish) put in a lot to the UK coffers when size of population and job employment are taken into account. (GDP) Scotland is remote from London and for decades has been considered as the poor relation. The EU isn’t perfect but many who voted leave probably don’t actually know all the good EU laws that have made conditions better for workers in the UK. (Employment laws, Environmental policies, etc) Things that our previous Conservative Governments have blocked.


  10. Nancy, thank you for explaining the situation with the EU. I feel so much more enlightened and realize what countries are going through deciding whether or not to remain. Change is hard for everyone, but perhaps after going over the pros and cons, it will turn out to be a better choice to leave (or stay). I wish you and your country the best in this time of decision-making!


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