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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

OP posts:
Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 10:34

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.

Mate, totally envy you. Just reading the crap people put in their incoherent pro-Brexit 'arguments' is embarrassing. Fucking state of it.

AgeShallNotWitherHer · 29/11/2019 10:34

YABU to take it personally. It is a political decision and people vote for a myriad of different reasons that have nothing to do with you.

Should the plumbers take it personally when they are undercut by EU workers? Or the nursing students without a bursary to train because the NHS can get ready-made nurses from the EU? Or the childless couple who never get a council house but who see others going ahead of them in the queue. All these things, all the choices and the way a society prioritises things are political yet individuals are personally affected.

When the pension age for women was raised - was that personal? Maybe the individuals thought it was. And old people are definitely abused and discriminated against on occasion.

If you make it personal - you allow division which means we are all more vulnerable.

LightsInOtherPeoplesHouses · 29/11/2019 10:35


I'm the grandaughter of immigrants from Europe, a fact I've had to point out to some people in my wider family who voted leave for essentially racist reasons (and I know not all leavers are racist, but most of those who I know voted leave are).

AgeShallNotWitherHer · 29/11/2019 10:40

OnlyFools - spot on.

The assumption that British = white is offensive. The assumption that only whites voted Leave is also offensive, (worse, the assumption that they only voted that way because they are white). The ridiculous denial of the extreme racism and homophobia in some of the ex Eastern Bloc countries works in favour of the "Racist Leavers Vote" trope but actually if examined doesn't fully stack up.

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 10:41

i had correct rights, thank you very much requirements changed!
A country has the right to impose rules, again on these threads no one seems to hammer other countries for their immigration procedures.

burnagirl · 29/11/2019 10:43

Yep, requirements changed, and so did mine... Grin I now require a lot more than I had, so as soon as I'm ready, I'll leave, and Britain will have lost another Very Useful Professional. Grin


Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 10:44

The ridiculous denial of the extreme racism and homophobia in some of the ex Eastern Bloc countries

Who is doing that?

Can you explain the connection between us leaving the EU and all the benefits the arrangements have, and racism in Eastern bloc countries?

Because clearly you see a connection.

Can you also tell us some of the benefits of brexit - because clearly there are loads.

"Division means we are all more vulnerable." - and yet Brexit is about division isn't it.

kenandbarbie · 29/11/2019 10:45

I think you are unreasonable to take it personally. I'm a remainder but I think, for brexiteers, it's more about self determination and a change to the status quo than racism.

Aderyn19 · 29/11/2019 10:49

The EU has become too big and too unwieldy and is resistant to change. Too many failed politicians are on the gravy train to want to reform it. The member states all have very different economies and priorities and I believe this is unworkable in the long term. I felt very uneasy about how Greece was treated. Freedom of movement just enables wages to be kept low. My sister's boss imports cheap labour from the EU, puts people in staff houses and then charges them rent, so is effectively paying them less and having guaranteed tenants. It doesn't support the working class. My sil, from a non EU country, has had to jump through very expensive hoops to get leave to remain. It's unfair that she had to do that when someone else, who isn't such an asset, can just move here. The EU is also very convenient for the govt to hide behind and blame for their choices. No EU = no hiding place. I am in favour of controlled immigration. I hope it will lead to the country investing money in training people who already live here. I cannot see the value in having EU workers in low skilled roles while paying unemployment benefits to British citizens. I think countries should encourage immigration from people who have needed skills. I don't want ever increasing political union with other countries, run by people I haven't elected.
It isn't about you personally or about hating foreigners.
I'm sorry you feel unwelcome. Voting leave was never about wanting to remove people whose homes are permanently here. My family were also immigrants at one time and my dh's mum was not from the UK.

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 10:49

The only time my black brother in law has been asked "where do you really come from" was by an Eastern European...apparently Peckham wasnt a sufficient answer. I dont immediantly call all EU migrants racist!

I also find it quiet disgusting the implication that Brits descended from migrants shouldn't consider themselves British and are assumed to always need align themselves with the plights of migrants. A racist assumption in itself.

Fiep · 29/11/2019 10:56

@AgeShallNotWitherHer I agree about the division and that’s why I started a debate in the spirit of mutual respect.

But I do think you are wrong about some things, like the “ready made nurses”: please send them my way if you find them because as far as I can tell in every service I’ve ever worked in, there aren’t any ready made nurses ready to work here, least of all EU ones. Bursary cuts are about government not valuing education for everyone (just for the privileged), it has nothing to do with immigration.

I also think I should clarify I never assumed White = British, I know this isn’t the case, I guess I just made the incorrect assumption that people with experience of being marginalised wouldn’t vote to marginalise others, as they would know how crap it feels. But I stand corrected

OP posts:
PhoneLock · 29/11/2019 10:57

I’m Irish living in the UK.

Surely Brexit makes no difference to your status? As an Irish citizen you have the right to live, work and vote in the UK and have had since 1922.

The UK leaving the EU won't change that.

raskolnikova · 29/11/2019 11:05

YANBU. Frankly I'm embarrassed to be British right now.

At least you'll still have your Freedom of Movement, I won't soon.

derxa · 29/11/2019 11:05

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” You sound like a snob.

ChestnutSmoothie · 29/11/2019 11:07

The UK is more positive about the benefits of immigration than almost anywhere else in Europe. We’re more positive about it than most of the countries we’ supposedly “hate”.

Things like this are disregarded in the self-serving “I am ashamed to be British” type posts.

It’s the accusations of xenophobia & racism that are actually causing all the harm & I suggest it’s that that is making you feel unwelcome, rather than attitudes you are facing day to day.

Lizzie0869 · 29/11/2019 11:08

I really know what you mean. I'm half Czech and my maiden name was always a problem for me growing up, it led to teasing and no one ever spelt it correctly. But no one said that I shouldn't have the right to be here. Though there were some people who thought my F was a Russian spy (it was the period of the Cold War).

My DSis is more open about her heritage with those around her and she has had negative comments like she's fortunate that she's able to live here. (This despite the fact that our DM is as fully British as it's possible to be.)

I just keep quiet about it. My married name is old fashioned English so no one is any the wiser about my heritage. But it's ridiculous that it should be an issue at all.

So yes, there is a lot of prejudice. But you have every right to be here, and to speak in whichever language you want to speak in. So don't let anyone make you feel like you don't belong here.

Tamalpais · 29/11/2019 11:08


I didn't come here from an EU country, but I have friends who did. We all felt unwelcome the day after the referendum. And of course we all know Leave voters who blustered on about "Actually, it's not you guys who are the problem, it's X, Y or Z."

There's very little "jeez, I'm sorry you feel that way," but quite a lot of "We voted for this so suck it the fuck up, rules have changed."

I hope someday you feel comfortable enough to speak your own language in the UK again.

Zara9698 · 29/11/2019 11:10

YANBU I agree with you 100%. As a US citizen who has made my home in the UK for over 20 years, Brexit has made me feel unwelcome here and as it is no longer home. I can pass as English and the amount of racist/xenophobic commentary I have overheard since Brexit is shocking. Like you I couldn't vote in the election. I live in rural East Anglia in a 98% white area. The main reason I've been given by Brexiteers locally is that Britain is 'full' when challenged this turns out to be linked to racism most of the time or else it is the sovereignty/take back control line. What specific policy/piece of legislation do they want to take back control of? No one ever gives an example. Or else you get the change for change's sake answer.

The referendum was on the concept of leave or remain. The implementation is fraught with complexity and now that both sides of the debate have a lot more information on the detail there should be a second referendum.

scaryteacher · 29/11/2019 11:12

Burnagirl Having just returned after 13 years in Belgium, I had to be registered there. The police come to check who lives in the house, and if you aren't registered, you can't bank, register with a GP, get your bins emptied, use the tip, etc. If you moved to most European countries, it would be the same. Why object here? I think we'll end up with ID cards here eventually.

colourbynumbers · 29/11/2019 11:18

Britain hasn't become more racist since Brexit - people just stopped being so polite about their racism.

Trump, Brexit etc has made it acceptable to be openly racist in Britain but this country has always been racist.

I'm a British mixed race woman married to a Polish man who has lived here almost all his life, so much so that unless he told you he was from Poland, you wouldn't know.

We face almost daily racist comments.

scaryteacher · 29/11/2019 11:21

Zara As a U.S. Citizen, do you think the U.S. would accept rules without being able to have a say when these were introduced? Part of this is the failure to allow a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Are the ECJ, FOM, taxation harmonisation etc the sort of things you'd want the U.S. to sign up to?

Hagbeth · 29/11/2019 11:22

I’m born in another EU country but would vote for Brexit because I absolutely hate the federal union that is now emerging. This was not what I signed up for. It has nothing to do with racism whatsoever.

scaryteacher · 29/11/2019 11:30

Hagbeth Precisely.

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 11:32

I'm a British mixed race woman married to a Polish man who has lived here almost all his life, so much so that unless he told you he was from Poland, you wouldn't know. We face almost daily racist comments.

Do you ever visit Poland? If so do you experience more abuse there or the UK....genuinely asking....?

GoingToWearPantiesLikeAnElf · 29/11/2019 11:41

YANBU and I am so sorry. I used to live in Germany and from time to time in public told my kids to 'stay under the radar' and speak German only (usually when drunk people in the U-Bahn were around. Self preservation based on a few incidents). You'll get arseholes anywhere and everywhere, irrespective of nationality. But I can totally understand that Brexit feels like a kick in the teeth. The NHS will suffer the consequences - was chatting to a lovely nurse in A+E a month ago who also said as much - which makes it ironic for those voters who believed the Brexit Bus Billy Bollocks.

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