BACK in the good old days, when I travelled far and wide over the continent of Europe, there was a bit of hassle when passports were checked at borders. There was money changing too. Generally speaking, things moved quite well. Then things got better, the Euro and Schengen and suddenly the route from Stockholm to Málaga, with a fair wind, was possible without border police.

To me, at that time, this was marvellous. After my trips, coming home meant meeting customs officials, and passport control of the UK. If I returned via a port in the South of England there could be 500 miles before I could get some real Scottish pounds for my Euros.

The looks from the passport and customs people often made me feel as if I had committed a crime, and the question “where are you going?” used to bug me, as if it were any of their business.

Just six years ago, you and I were citizens of the largest free trading area. We had the right to travel, study, live and work in 27 other lands (a few more if you break the UK into its parts and add Switzerland). That was amazing and I took advantage of the opportunity that it provided. In those days I had business from Catania to Durness. I could see the smoke rising from Mount Etna and a couple of days later be looking out from the cliff tops to Sango Bay.

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It was not only me, many people I knew harvested a bounty in rewards, career, money and personal. I think now how fortunate I have been to have been a part of that. I could never understand why anyone would not want a bit of it for themselves. It seemed to me that Ted Heath sold the EEC to the UK as an economic club, but even at that time the ambition of other European nations was far more ambitious than just that, many who fought against membership wanted it just as a money club forever.

Thatcher seemed to think that those “nasty Germans” wanted to be in charge of it all and she remembered the war so she shouted no, no, no.

Then John Major tried to expand the UK into the Maastricht Treaty and had one hell of a time from the Eurosceptics. It always seemed to me that for the UK, the European Union was something that was done unto us, rather than the UK being a part of the powerhouse to move it forward to make better lives for all citizens.

This is just to remind you that we lost a lot when Cameron held the Brexit referendum, and then scurried off like a half-drowned rat, leaving us in the sewer of incompetent Brexit negotiators, and ultimately to the current state of affairs in the strange island of Westminster, where bon-bons play on the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay. I don’t think.

Now we can feel the icy waters rising around our feet and the true costs of all the folly are becoming clearer than a big red bus. This is to remind you that, depending on how you do your maths, each person in the UK contributed around 35 pence per day to belong to the European Union, and in return for that membership we received so much. That is not even £120 per year. What does a gym or golf membership set you back yearly?

From November 2023 any Scottish person wishing to go to an EU member state will have to apply to European Travel Information and Authorisation System and under go security checks. There will be a charge made of £6 per person per trip, and trips are limited to 90 days. When we were a part of the EU you would not have noticed the 35 pence a day.

I live in hope that I will still be alive when Scotland becomes independent and I get a Scottish passport which I will not need to show to passport control, as we once again become members of the EU, and then return home here to Scotland without the UK Border Force as a welcome.

Cher Bonfis

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