When I started my blog about 15 yrs ago, I often shared my thoughts over a coffee out in Cardiff Bay. Since I'm here today with some time to kill, I've decided to revisit the old practise - over a coffee and caramel waffle in Starbucks. Today my mind wanders to the future of Europe, as the Prime Minister invests time in chat and ritual dancing with Donald Tusk, against background of German election. It will take a few months for the full impact of the arrival of the Alternative fur Deutschland in the Bundestag to work through. Maybe it's because I have grandchildren that whenever I think about translating my thoughts into words I worry about what the future holds. How on earth have we reached the position of Donald Trump in the White House, abuse becoming endemic in our British political system, and the AfD becoming a major player in Germany, where the voting system is meant to prevent this sort of thing happening.
When contemplating which way to vote in the EU Referendum last year, I acknowledged (to myself) that the best argument for Remain was the role the UK could play as Europe faces crisis and probable collapse over the next few years. Britain has centuries of constitutional stability, which works against bloody revolution. I finally decided the UK can do this more effectively outside the self serving out-of-touch elite centred on Brussels. A lot depends on whether the Brexit 'divorce' is amicable and constructive, or the opposite. It's bad news all round if the UK is 'ostracised'.
What are the issues facing the EU (and by extension Europe)? Most worrying is immigration, and the negative reaction to it. The reality is that there will probably be over a billion people trying to move to European countries from Africa and the Middle East. We will all strengthen our immigration controls across Europe, but it will be a mighty challenge, which will feed extremist movements, both on the left and right off political opinion. The AfD will have a field day. In particular, we should divert more of our International Aid to these countries to develop their own economies - trying to tackle the problem at source.
When I see the posturing of the EU elite as we negotiate Brexit, I despair - obsessing about the garden fence as the house falls down. While I voted to Leave, and would do so if there was a re-run referendum, I do believe we owe it to future generations as well as ourselves that we strive for an amicable separation, and a focus on this biggest issue of all. I thought Mrs May's Florence speech was a positive step forward from the UK Government. I'm not at all sure that the EU response will be as positive. It needed a powerful Mrs Merkel to step in and redirect the agenda. It should not be left to the Brussels based out-of-touch bureaucracy. There are big black clouds on the horizon. I just hope the winds of reason will blow them away. That's my coffee done - so rambling can cease for today.