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To take Brexit personally?

352 replies

Fiep · 29/11/2019 09:46

I’m preparing to be flamed but I really want to hear views from all sides. Do try to be kind though.

I’m an EU citizen. I’ve lived in the UK for all my adult life and have spent most of that working with NHS patients. I’m a qualified professional and there is a skills shortage - we never manage to fill all our posts.

Most people can’t tell by my accent that I’m from the EU and instead assume I’m from another English-speaking country unless I tel them my name (which sounds foreign) or speak in another language.

Before the referendum I felt the UK was my home. It was the place I’d spent most of my life and I’ve always loved the British humour and quirky way of looking at things.

Nobody ever gave me grief about being foreign and I felt welcome and valued.

Shortly after the referendum, someone verbally abused me on a bus when they overheard me speaking in a European language on the phone. It really upset me. I’m privileged by most measures and I’m white, so I was not used to racist abuse. I now have a baby and struggle to talk to her in my language in public as I feel people are giving me judgemental looks when I’m out and about and speaking “foreign”, especially as I live in a rural place where the majority of shoppers at the big Tesco are White British and I see quite a few Union Jack / St George’s flag tattoos. This denies her the chance to grow up bilingual and I feel guilty about that. I do speak / read / sing to her at home but it’s not enough immersion in the language for it to make a difference.

On the other hand, most of my colleagues in health have always been immigrants too and I struggle to see how the NHS would run if it was just White British staffed.

AIBU to feel really angry about Brexit? To feel it’s just vitriol and wanting the country to be white? To take it personally and to let it affect me in that way? To look around the shops and feel that prejudice has been legitimised?

I’d actually be really keen to hear from Leavers as well as Remainers as I really can’t get my head around how anyone could have thought this was a good idea for something as woolly as “sovereignty” or whatever.

braces self for impact

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MaryBerrysChutney · 29/11/2019 09:53

If only the "white British" voted for Brexit, would it have happened? This country is as much yours as it is anyone else's. Stand up for yourself and speak to your daughter in your language of choice. If people don't like it: tough!

Eggies · 29/11/2019 09:59

I'm the grandchild of an immigrant, I'm at least half western-european, my mother speaks fluently in her EU language, and I voted brexit. It's not a racist thing, at least to me it's not. But there are many idiots who are clueless but just use brexit as an excuse to spew their hateful vitriol.

Fiep · 29/11/2019 10:06

@Eggies so why did you? I’m genuinely curious as I can’t see any good reasons for it but would be eager to understand others more

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burnagirl · 29/11/2019 10:11

Oh, I hear you. You've basically described my experience. No, YANBU to take this personally - I do too. But it makes me laugh, in a way. Arrogance is a very British trait, and I can't help but chuckle when the toothless Trevor sits there, red-faced, waving his finger around shouting about immiglints and commun sense

Cause in the end, any country in the world will have me, if I ever decide to jump ship. Barry and Sharon will be stuck here as this little Island fades into chaos and obscurity. Sure, it'll be a hell of an inconvenience to leave the country I've lived in since childhood now and I'd rather stay where I am, but if push comes to shove...

Moonmelodies · 29/11/2019 10:12

Aren't most people in the UK EU citizens?

Velveteenfruitbowl · 29/11/2019 10:13

YABVU. If it was just xenophobia brexit wouldn’t have happened. I voted brexit, I’m not a xenophobe (I am an immigrant myself, as were my parents, as were their parents, as were their parents). I am in strong support of limited control immigration (with obvious denial for criminals and no access to public funds). I am also in favour of free movement of goods. However I think the EU has bastardised both concepts and increasing negates the real benefits of both. I know many people (many from other EU countries) who think the same. It’s really not about having less of other European nationalities and more about extricating ourselves from a failing system.

PaddyF0dder · 29/11/2019 10:16

I’m Irish living in the UK. I work in the NHS, Luke you, in a role that requires rare skills and qualifications. I feel like I contribute quite a lot to society.

I’m fortunate not to have faced any xenophobia or bigotry since the Brexit vote, but I have no doubt that racist incidents have increased since the vote. There’s reliable evidence to prove that.

I take it personally too. I think we’re right to. And Brexit is fundamentally a racist policy. That’s not to say that all Brexit voters are racist. But the underpinning of Brexit as a concept are xenophobic.

So take it personally. We should.

OoohTheStatsDontLie · 29/11/2019 10:17

My husband is in the same boat as you (apart from working in the NHS) and he feels the same as you.

I think its awful you didn't get a vote given you've worked and lived and paid taxes here for so long.

He finds it really hard when people use immigration as an argument, people say stuff along the lines of 'well you're ok but we don't want any more like you coming here, do we' and list all the reasons why more immigration is bad...when in reality for his job you need to be a fluent speaker of his language and have a science degree and every time it is advertised, there just arent the UK candidates to fill it (most of them speak the language conversationally and have a science degree, or are fluent and have GCSE science) so they actually need him and people like him because otherwise they would struggle to sell their technical products in the EU. He has a British wife and children and has paid high rates of taxes for 20 years yet doesnt get a say in anything and had to register for the right to stay. It's like when people are racist but still like their favourite footballer or neighbour, because 'they're ok' because they are useful or they know them or whatever.

So I think when people are saying they dont want anyone similar to you to be able to come into the country as you did, it's very hard not to take it personally.

But I really hope you can find a way to teach your child your language. I think you may regret not doing so. You have to be really strict as otherwise if she knows you will answer in English she may eventually start talking in English all the time because its easier or she doesnt want to be different. It hopefully wont always be like this and will one day be seen as a good thing again to speak another language

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 10:18

YABVU- I am white Jewish British with a mixed raced child, I voted leave to distance myself from the ex-soviet countries that are proven to be internationally racist, homophobic and antisemitic !!!!

Yes sadly brexit has given way to racists to make abhorrent remarks- but that isnt the majority!

Please also stop saying white british- british is british, black, asians etc born here are just as British as me!

safariboot · 29/11/2019 10:19

Not everyone who voted Leave is racist, but I think almost everyone who is racist perceived the Leave vote as an endorsement of their views.

Fiep · 29/11/2019 10:21

@burnagirl yes, this occurred to me as well, listening to Nigel Farage on radio 4 the other morning about work permits left me really puzzled. If I’m going to be disadvantaged somehow and have to apply for some sort of permit every few years why would I stay? All I want is a comfortable secure life in a community.

I’d get paid twice what I get paid in the NHS if I went to Australia and the weather is nicer.

But it still makes me sad that I’d have to leave what I thought was my home. And I’m not ready to give up on that. But I think part of me feels silly for even thinking I belonged in the first place. Maybe I was just quietly tolerated all along and people like Bus Guy kept their views to themselves. Now I can’t help but wonder what everyone (randoms down the pub / cashiers / patients, for example) thinks about me living here. I’ve even caught myself trying to sound more colloquially British (“innit”) rather than my more RP language to try to fit in with “the people”. It all seems a bit much effort and quite silly really. Starting to think it’s my problem.

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OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 10:23

Fiep The UK has provided a free settlement scheme, they are trying to show non-UK nationals that they are indeed welcome to stay and continue their lives. Other EU nations have not been so gracious to Brits living there.

Scautish · 29/11/2019 10:23


Your post makes me so ashamed to be British. I am so sorry you are going through this.

I don’t want Brexit. It’s fucking shit and it’s the worst off in society who are really really going to suffer.

OoohTheStatsDontLie · 29/11/2019 10:24

I dont think everyone just wants the country to be white though.

Firstly because western Europeans are white and they still aren't wanted

Secondly because I know a fair few British Asians who voted leave, their parents were immigrants but now they think the country is 'too full'.

Although there are some people who clearly do think this, and 'make Britain great again' harping back to the 60s etc inthink sometimes there are elements of racism (I saw an interview where someone said we should get the empire back again!)

So I think saying they want it to be white british again is over simplistic but still YANBU to take Brexit personally

Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 10:24

I'm devastated by whats happened to this country and that it has made people like you feel like this.

Brexiteers do my head in. They really have voted for something nebulous, stupid, time-consuming, expensive, risky, supported by racists, that will make all our lives harder, and they still don't get it yet.

burnagirl · 29/11/2019 10:28

Well, at least we still have choices - we can move, we can better ourselves. We have this massive advantage. I've said this before and I'll say it again - Britain is shooting itself in the foot, well, I've no sympathy when it all goes to shit. And it will. They'll only have themselves to blame.

Us immigrants, we're tough. We've left our home once and resettled, we can do this again. We can learn another language rather than expect other countries to speak ours. We can adjust ourselves to any surroundings. We will be ok without Britain, but Britain won't be ok without us.

ChestnutSmoothie · 29/11/2019 10:29

Who is making you feel unwelcome?

One person on a bus? That was absolutely awful, but there are dickheads everywhere, I’m afraid.

Half the country did not vote Leave. Of the half that did, most voted for reasons other than immigration (sovereignty isn’t a “woolly” issue for many people) - and when immigration was an issue, it was mostly about numbers rather than personalities, races or nationalities.

And I have yet to hear from anyone who wanted immigration stopped altogether...just monitored & limited more than it has been, mainly so that resources here don’t continue to suffer.

There are plenty of sensible arguments against the above POV but “everyone’s racist” isn’t one of them.

It’s really disturbing how we’re being portrayed in this country as a nation of knuckle-dragging bigots - we’re not. We’re actually massively more tolerant than most other places in the world, including many parts of Europe. Racism exists obviously but the vast majority of people cannot be described as racist & there are very few indeed that would consider you “unwelcome” because you weren’t born here.

I voted Remain, but I seriously considered voting to leave because I still believe that being part of the EU leaves a lot to be desired. It was only because I am not an economist & knew that I have nothing like the understanding of issues necessary to make a fully informed decision that I went for Remain on a “better the devil you know” basis.

Having said that, I can see why you feel the way you do. Endless forums like this & places like Twitter are filled with virtue-signalling twats desperate to earn themselves social prestige points by calling out others for “racism” which is frequently imagined or invented. The national conversation now seems to have simply accepted that only people who hate those from Eastern Europe want to leave the EU - which is not true now and never has been.

I am sorry you feel unwelcome in your own home (which this country clearly is) but, aside from the odd dickhead, I genuinely don’t think you are. And you are right - without immigration from all parts of our globe, we wouldn’t have an NHS.

Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 10:29

Brexiteers tend to be climate-change deniers, like Arron Banks, Farage, or Nigel Lawson and - or simply not concerned about the environment - Boris, JRM at all.

Thanks to these immensely privileged old white guys, we're not going to be working towards stopping climate change at all -in fact, environmental legislations are being swept away and there will likely be huge expanse in aviation-freight.

So that's brilliant too.

OoohTheStatsDontLie · 29/11/2019 10:29

I'm sure people weren't just tolerating you all these years.

Some people hate anything 'different'. Differrnt language, ginger hair, more money than them, vote differently to them, live in a different region to them, dress differently, have a disability, different gender etc and they will abuse them, loudly, in public

They are hopefully a tiny minority and there are loads more people like me who are glad you're here and appreciate people coming from other countries and sharing their skills and cultures etc...obviously being British I'd never actually say it to them though!

wildflowersandweeds · 29/11/2019 10:29

The fact that you call it 'big Tesco' makes you as British as you can get! Grin

But in all seriousness, I'm sorry that Brexit has made you feel like that. The NHS is going to be in serious difficulties if things continue down this path.

burnagirl · 29/11/2019 10:30

@OnlyFoolsnMothers BULLSHIT. I've lived on this godforsaken island for a long time. Now I have to prove that I'm eligible to live in my own home by going on some silly little register. How about... Nope. Bollocks to that.

Fiep · 29/11/2019 10:30

@OoohTheStatsDontLie @PaddyF0dder thanks - your stories are validating to me.

@OnlyFoolsnMothers thank you, that’s a useful perspective. I hadn’t considered why anyone who is from a background where someone may have experienced racial/ ethnic hatred would have voted leave, so it’s helpful to hear why you did. I don’t really agree but I can understand where you’re coming from and how strong those motivators can be.

@Velveteenfruitbowl I understand what you’re saying, but why on earth would people want to live here and prop up public services if we don’t have access to public services? I pay tax like everyone else; why wouldn’t I be allowed to access services? Do you mean like maternity pay or unemployment benefits if I were to be made redundant after decades of paying tax and NI? Or NHS services which I’m actually providing but then paradoxically couldn’t use for myself? If this kind of policy were to materialise I will leave immediately and I suspect most of my qualified colleagues will leave too, in some sort of mass exodus of skilled staff. Not shouting you down, just wondered if it might be helpful to hear how it would actually pan out if immigrants didn’t have access to services. I think it would be the UK’s loss

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OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 10:31

burnagirl how else do you suppose we give people the correct rights if not to register them?
Countries are allowed to have immigration rules- did you go mad when Canada introduced an ETA visa for all travellers?

Damntheman · 29/11/2019 10:32

YANBU OP and as a brit I am so sorry. I also take it very personally, I live abroad and brexit has been a real shot to the stomach. It's awful, and yes it's quite clear to see from outside the UK that xenophobia and racism have risen alongside Brexit. Sure, some people may have voted for Brexit for reasons that are not xenophobia/racism - I have no trouble believing that, but I do believe more than half of the people who voted for Brexit did it for those exact reasons. They're very loud about it too, I am unsurprised you don't feel Britain is home anymore.

The whole thing is horrendous and I am regularly embarrassed by it.

burnagirl · 29/11/2019 10:33

I had correct rights, thank you very much.

I really, really hope that all of those professionals the UK desperately needs will snub this country and choose to go somewhere they'll actually feel valued.

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