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.
The UK has always been a bit… special. Lately this has become more obvious than ever.
You see, it was always there. The UK has been difficult to deal with for a long time now. While not always obvious to the British public, people in other European countries have been scratching their heads for a long time. First the UK didn’t want to join the EEA (it joined 6 years after declining the first offer because its economy was so bad that there really was no better option), later it rejected both Schengen and the Euro. Not too long ago, David Cameron pitched up in Brussels to ask the EU if the UK could have some more exceptions and special deals, because too many foreigners were arriving, thank you very much. (The EU looked into this and concluded that all the problems Cameron mentioned were caused by the UK government not spending enough money on them, especially compared to other EU countries.) After getting most of what he asked for, David Cameron returned to Westminster to announce a referendum on leaving the EU… and unfortunately we all know what happened next.
On the day that Brexit was confirmed, a shellshocked media focussed attention mainly on the economic and political consequences of the public’s decision. According to politicians then and since, the people had spoken and their message had been…
I am a Spanish national who arrived in the UK back in February 1998. Back then I had just been through a divorce and needed a break, so I took a newspaper in my native Valencia and selected 3 jobs ads for 3 different countries, UK, France & Germany. I did not have a priority but as the one for UK was first, I rang and I was accepted. Once I arrived I was determined to learn as much as possible about the language and culture of the country that was to be my home, and to make a success of the rest of my life here.
My name is Anna. I’m a pianist and recently a piano teacher from Poland. 15 years ago, working in America, I met a charming English man and we settled in Britain. I haven’t arrived here to steal anyone’s job, claim benefits or cause any trouble. Till about four months ago I had a happy life, I forgot I had an accent. After 15 years I finally got to where I wanted to be. I am running a very successful music teaching studio, I’m invited to teach at workshops, summer schools etc. I always knew xenophobia existed in this nation, as it does everywhere, but what is happening here now has gone beyond my wildest nightmares.
At One Day Without Us, we believe that the UK would be a lot worse off should we close our borders and force current, legal immigrants to leave as visa conditions change.
But if that happened, what would the reality really be like?