Although there are many upsetting aspects of the referendum result, as a non-EU immigrant who has become a British citizen I am particularly angry about losing my newly-won right to free movement in the EU. In fact I became a British citizen in large part so that I could gain this right.
Though they were only dreams, my husband and I had hoped to be able to work in other EU countries in the future. Now that ability is doubtful without the prospect of expensive and uncertain visas. I have already been through the stress of the immigration process once and I do not wish to do it again. However, as the economy begins to falter I have doubts about the long-term viability of staying in the UK.
The loss of free movement also directly affects my family. My in-laws have been slowly renovating a modest property in France for many years. They recently retired and have been able to spend more time there (yes, they do speak French!). However, their main residence is in the UK so they are not eligible to become permanent residents of France, nor do they wish to for practical reasons. So far Brexit has cost them 30% of their savings, and the uncertainty over free movement is causing a great deal of stress. Will they be able to freely come and go to their own property, or will they have to apply for a visa every time they wish to visit France? Will they have to go through customs checks and pay import duties every time they go back and forth? Will their current arrangements with respect to health care, pensions, and so on become untenable? If the Brexit negotiations become very acrimonious will they be forced to give up their dream home and end their hard-earned retirement?
I am also supporting the day of action event because of the impact on my EU colleagues. My field (archaeology) has a large number of EU citizens working in it. There are simply not enough skilled British-born people applying for the jobs to meet demand and do the work properly. Archaeology in the UK is a fundamental part of the construction process, and the job includes many short-term contract placements with a constant threat of redundancy. It is relatively rare to get a permanent contract, and as a result it is impossible to get a traditional work visa in the field. If EU citizens are forced to leave or to apply for the work visas currently designed for permanent positions in less volatile fields, companies will be unable to complete projects to appropriate standards within budget and time constraints. On most sites I have worked on, nearly half of the people on site were EU citiziens – not only the archaeologists themselves, but also the ground workers and machine drivers we work with. A lack of properly trained workers who can do the job properly means that tangible aspects of British heritage will be lost.’
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