Posted by Wes Brooks on Aug 31, 2017
President Paula Brahan presided over the meeting. Thanks to Ryan Kelly who gave the invocation and to Phillip Pitts who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Thanks to Wes Brooks and Samantha McCain for serving as our greeters today.
Mike Ratliff introduced today’s visiting Rotarians and guests.  Mary Cromarty has her husband Dean Cromartie as her guest. Charlie Lewis and Cole Gressett are guests of John Cooper although John could not be present today. Chad Edmonson is a guest of Steve Ramp and P.J. Bergeson is a guest of Robert Cummings. Welcome!!
Today’s cash winner was Johnny Stevens.  Paula noted that today is Johnny’s official retirement day. The full pot was worth $50 today. Paula reminded members to bring extra cash to future meetings and participate in the weekly cash give-away.
Brandon Hodges was presented the certificate and Paul Harris Fellowship pin for the Fellowship he donated in his daughter’s name. It was noted that any contribution of $100 or more to the Foundation will be point matched one-for-one through October 15th.
Paula then invited Denny Bubrig up where he was presented with his official blue Rotary Club of Hattiesburg badge. His transfer from the Northwest Austin Rotary club has been finalized. Welcome to our club Denny. He serves as the Assistant Vice President for Student Life in the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Robert Cummings then introduced today’s guest speaker, Jeffrey Cromartie who is a Managing Director at Fitch Ratings in London, England. He and his wife Claire spoke to our club about “BREXIT”. Claire is a U.K. native and has worked in International Market Research in London.
Jeffrey began the discussion with a history of how the European Union began. Just after World War II there was a need for the countries in the region to work together in building trade relationships, especially in the areas of coal and steel. The movement continued to gain momentum creating a way for free movement of money, good, people and services throughout the region. The European Parliament was created to govern the massive organization.
Claire then addressed the “what went wrong” issues within the EU which intimately led to the British withdrawal referendum a couple of years ago. Claire noted that United Kingdom residents see themselves as an island have always. They consider themselves UK residents rather than European Citizens. Their currency remained the pound rather than the Euro. Many of the young, wealthy more educated citizens say the benefits of remaining a part of the EU, however older, less wealthy and less educated residents  were angry that the EU was circumventing their traditions and way of life. Immigration within the EU also had an impact on the referendum’s outcomes, especially in the poorer more rural areas of the country. Therefore when the referendum was called the vote was 52% to 48% to withdraw.
A new Prime Minister was elected and saw the results as a mandate to totally withdraw from the EU (a Hard BREXIT). However, with more than four decades of trade agreements, financial arrangements, etc., breaking away has been a real challenge. A two-year time frame was established to renegotiate what needed to be negotiated so the withdrawal could become effective. Very little has been accomplished according to Claire.
Claire indicates that there needs to be more truth from the politicians, especially about the trade-offs that will have to be made for the split to become effective. Business leaders are now communicating to the politicians and there appears to be a softening of just how much separation may be possible (a Softer BREXIT) . Jeffery noted that 44% of all United Kingdom exports go to the EU, indicating just how much must be negotiated if both entities are to survive successfully.
Paula thanked today’s speakers and with no other business or announcements she adjourned the meeting with our motto, “Service Above Self.”