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AIBU?

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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aintnothinbutagstring · 29/11/2019 12:36

My DH is a remainer like me, he is not from the UK (not EU) and works for the NHS also. He is sympathetic to Brexit voters (including some of his fellow countrymen that have settled here). I think he would vote Brexit now, if the opportunity arose to vote again. I think he feels EU immigrants have had an easier ride than non-EU immigrants, especially those working for the NHS (no English test required even though lots of EU migrants have poor english, no conversion course for EU trained). Overall I think many British and non-EU immigrants feel the immigration system as it is right now is thoroughly unfair and is in need of reform, without exiting the EU, that would be difficult.

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derxa · 29/11/2019 12:37

My comment came out wrong I think. Snobbery is looking down on others, my example was the opposite as I found myself trying to distort myself into something I’m not for fear of being judged, i.e. I was actually feeling inferior and trying to belong by adapting to be more acceptable to others, by appearing “more like others”. Does that make sense?
OK but surely saying innit is such a daft thing to do. As for your RP that's another kettle of fish. What RP do you mean?

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AutumnRose1 · 29/11/2019 12:37

OP “ 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”

i read that as “how dare people be white British”.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 12:38

@ChristmasAngst what sorts of benefits do you mean immigrants shouldn’t be entitled to? If I’m temporarily unemployed for a couple of months should I be precluded from unemployment payments, given how much I’ve paid into the pot? Should I not be entitled to maternity pay or NHS care? I can understand your argument actually, and I never thought I should have the vote, but doesn’t it seem a bit unfair not to be allowed to participate in the whole system, including safety nets, if you’ve paid for them? On a more pragmatic note I really don’t think me and others like me will stick around if the safety net no longer applies to us; it wouldn’t be fair. Other countries are not a great comparison as they don’t have a National insurance type system so the safety net works differently for everyone anyway.

@AutumnRose1 yes I wouldn’t struggle to get a job at all, but if there isn’t a safety net and I’m made to feel like a second class person then I don’t want them. It’s an emotional issue for me rather than a practical one. I’m curious how your family formed views on what level of immigration is good? Personally I find it really hard to form accurate views on this as I am not an economist, and I might be biased as there is such a shortage in my sector (health). Just curious how others go about checking their opinions? I guess that’s one thing I’m trying to do here, I’m deliberately trying to hear opposing views to try and understand.

@embarrassednewname I’m sorry you’re feeling this way too, good luck in your job hunt, my (British) friend moved to Scandinavia a few years ago and is very happy there.

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Londonlady53 · 29/11/2019 12:39

Sorry you are getting abuse, you definitely should report it to the police especially if CTV footage is available as it a criminal offence. You should keep talking your native language to you DD.
I voted Brexit, due to concerns about sovereignty. I am also very concerned about climate change and think the UK should be able to control population numbers - life is bad enough in the SE without uncontrolled growth of people. I don’t think this is such an issue in the rest of the EU as there is more space eg France/Spain. I was aware that the economy would be adversely affected in the short term but had to make a choice on the day

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Metalhead · 29/11/2019 12:39

I know exactly how you feel OP, and so do other EU citizens living here that I know. I seriously considered moving back to the country I left behind 18 years ago, but in the end I decided that this is my home now, for better or worse, and I have as much right to be here as anyone else!

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Charlottejbt · 29/11/2019 12:39

@OnlyFools A British passport has been very valuable, but Brexit will reduce its value enormously. As Ivan Rogers has pointed out, this will be the main effect of Brexit. One cannot leave a club and keep the benefits of membership. (Well one probably could, in EFTA, but that doesn't seem to be on offer currently.)

Why do you ask if I've ever left Europe? I have, a few times, but then some of the most ignorant people I know regularly go on long-haul holidays without their minds being noticeably broadened. I don't see your point.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 12:46

@derxa I agree, it’s totally daft! That’s why when I realised I was (subconsciously) doing it, I questioned myself as to why. The “RP” - I guess the closest thing to my accent is a BBC type / mixed with maybe a slight transatlantic style twang. But because I learned English as a third language, and these things come easily to me, I am aware of “correct” grammar and would tend to use that, as opposed to colloquialisms.

@AutumnRose1 yes I can understand that and I’m sorry it came across that way. I guess on reflection the truth is that I feel threatened by overtly patriotic people because I assume the flip side of the patriotism is that I am not welcome. As is often the case, my comment came out as angry when it actually comes from a place of feeling threatened. I should add that Bus Guy looked like this so it might be related to that. I can see it’s unfair to generalise but I do struggle not to feel intimidated by patriotism. My issue maybe, but then having a tattoo is quite a clear signal that you have strong views, no?

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DoubleHelix79 · 29/11/2019 12:48

I'm also an EU immigrant (German). I've been in this country for 12 years now, have dual citizenship and am married to Brit. While nobody has ever been unkind to me on the basis of my accent or nationality, I do know what you mean.

I feel disappointed and angry at the shift in the general mood I've witnessed over past decade or so. It feels more closed off to the world, more fearful of immigrants overall, and people are less likely to associate immigration with being an economically successful country that attracts talent from other countries.

I'm also more conscious of speaking German in certain area, in case I'm being mistaken for example for a Polish person - recent attacks on Polish people do stick in my mind.

Of course this is only a gradual shift instead of a dramatic one, but if I were single I would probably have started looking for jobs elsewhere by now.

I love this country and am really disappointed that we are in this situation.

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Abraid2 · 29/11/2019 12:49

Burna I think you’re as prejudiced as some of the Brexiteers you’re decrying.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 12:51

@Londonlady53 I get the climate change argument I suppose, provided that a national consensus that it matters can be reached more easily than in the EU. As it stands the government doesn’t really seem to care and (EU) climate targets are regularly ignored. Is I easier as a group or as an individual? Depends on who’s in power I suppose. It sounds like you hope that after Brexit a more progressive policy and some real dedication to halt climate change can take place. I hope you’re right. You have an election coming up where the issue is being raised, so maybe some change can happen, who knows...

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OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 12:57

I don't see your point point being you dont need freedom of movement to be able to travel, we (or at least I) happily accept the rules and regulations of other countries should I need to visit them eg. ESTA for the US an ETA for Canada. The idea that British people will be isolated on the British Isles with no means of escape are farcical.
There are indeed passport/ nationalities which are discriminated against when they travel (Nigerian, Pakistani etc) a British passport is not one of em.

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Figmentofmyimagination · 29/11/2019 13:03

If only we'd had some kind of national identity system in place, then citizens of other EU member states who had lived here for long enough, say 5 or even 10 years, could have voted in the referendum. This would have been far fairer and more legitimate.

It is outrageous that EU citizens who have built their lives in the UK and who were given the legitimate expectation that they could do this as equal citizens are having rights removed based on a decision in which they had no say.

Whatever the government would like you to believe, the "settled status" system is certainly no substitute. Quite apart from anything else, far too many people are being given only "pre-settled" status because they cannot prove that they can meet the residency requirements. Nobody warned them that they had to be collecting documentary evidence to prove that they were here. People are being tripped up because e.g. they have spent periods working cash in hand leaving gaps in their NI record.

The fact that other member states already require EU citizens to hold registration cards etc is neither here nor there. This is about removing something that people had and on which they based their legitimate expectations. A fair, reliable and trustworthy country is one that operates clear and predictable laws and practices on which people can rely to plan for the long-term - not one that removes rights and takes the rug from under peoples' feet.

This is not the only reason why the British passport will be devalued by this episode.

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derxa · 29/11/2019 13:03

OP and others who have felt less welcome here I feel sad about that.
I am Scottish but worked in the SE of England for over 20 years. I had people imitating my accent right in front of me and that was in the workplace! There are ignorant arseholes everywhere. I'm sorry OP people will know that you're not English within 20 secs of you speaking and have done all this time. Just relax.

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burnagirl · 29/11/2019 13:04

I'm not prejudiced, I'm just full of Schadenfreude - but that didn't come from nowhere.

Also, yessss, here we go with the arrogant views that Immigrants should come here, work, serve, pay into the system, put up and shut up and have no access to public funds.

Well, nope. It's you guys who need us, therefore it's you who should be showing gratitude that we came to your little island to provide valuable skills and labour. As I said, I'm not intending to stay. Neither are many, many UK nationals within my profession. And unfortunately, Britain cannot afford to lose any one of us.

But that's not our problem.

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ChristmasAngst · 29/11/2019 13:05

Fiep, I have never lived anywhere where I was entitled to their public healthcare or safety net. You may pay NI contributions towards the NHS, your pension and towards a safety net and your tax contributions do contribute to our society but just say for example you suddenly become unemployed with 2 DC. You are probably going to get around 2K universal credit a month, child benefit, your are entitled to use the NHS for free, you may have 2 DC in a state school which costs the state up to 12k a year. Unless someone has lived here a long, long time you will not be a net contributor to our economy so no, I don't think an immigrant should be entitled to what a citizen is entitled to. I am actually happy for our government to make a concession on this and say that after a certain no. of full years paying tax, a guest in our country can access certain state services.

As I said earlier, I say this as someone who has lived in other countries and was not entitled to anything other than my earnings. I just don't see why it's one rule for them but as soon as we impose any boundaries we are all bigots.

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AutumnRose1 · 29/11/2019 13:06

OP in terms of how family formed opinions, I think it’s partly about having a wide reach of friends in different jobs and living in different parts of the UK. It’s also partly just opinion!. I don’t include my Economics A level as part of my opinion forming, lol.

Some of them think that the more businesses that are opening, the better, because it all comes in to higher tax amounts to put in the pot. Some think that the increased load in population, pollution etc means business tax contributions aren’t that great because can’t offset the problems.. It’s personal choice, ultimately.

For a long time, it’s been assumed that wanting some kind of controlled immigration makes you a racist. I’m sick of that assumption. I’m also sick of the assumption that I can’t be British as I’m not white, which OP, you seem to be saying.

My ancestors dealt with renewal of paperwork. I can pretty much guarantee they’d say “you have to do a form, so what?” If you went to their country of origin, you’d have to fill in a form.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:07

@aintnothinbutagstring I’m not sure that’s true about the English tests, I’ve always had to prove my English proficiency when applying for jobs here, occasionally even by sitting a literacy test, which I always thought was a bit daft given my qualifications are from here.

I also think you might be wrong about the cross-qualification. Maybe it differs for different fields but for my fields it is a lengthy process for any EU qualified professionals to register here. It is expensive and takes time and lots of working for free to cross-qualify. Which specific professions did you come across where you can just waltz in?

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AutumnRose1 · 29/11/2019 13:08

@burnagirl. “ I'm not prejudiced,”

No, not at all, your comment about British arrogance wasn’t prejudiced at all.

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ChristmasAngst · 29/11/2019 13:15

It's you guys who need us

No we don't we have 1.33 million people unemployed. We need to make sure we are educating people to fill these gaps. I have actually worked with immigration in 2 other countries who do it very successfully. In most cases skills shortages fall across a bell curve. At the top end there is s skills shortage e.g. scientists, top surgeons, the top of their game and specialists. At the other end low skilled workers. Across the middle there is usually over supply of skills and no need for immigration in this area. What has happened in the UK is that there is no consideration to the skills we need when it comes to EU members. Its come on down and go for any job you want. This means UK Citizens have to compete against them. That is not fair and has caused resentment and this is why Brexit has happened.

In a couple of years time Brits won't care how many immigrants come here or what they look like if they know that people are brought here to fill genuine gaps which has a positive effect own our economy.

It's not correct to say all immigrants are here because we won't do that job. It's not true. I recently got a job where I had to attend a group assessment. There were 25 of us in the room and they hired 5 of us. They hired 3 Brits and 2 EU. The other 20 people in the room were perfectly capable of doing the job, but they didn't get it. Where I used o work you had to advertise your roles for a few weeks and prove you couldn't fill it before you interviewed anyone who wasn't a citizen. I'm not saying you should do this but I am saying that our immigration system is too slack.

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victoriashleigh · 29/11/2019 13:15

Completely empathise with this as I have a Portuguese fiancé who has been here for a decade, studied his Masters here, pays very high taxes, speaks perfect English, is totally integrated with British culture and consider[ed] this his home but he is growing increasingly more frustrated with the situation. He had to jump through a million hoops to get his settled status and is beginning to feel generally unwelcome.

His parents came to visit in the summer and they were speaking Portuguese on a bus. They were quite engaged in their conversation and I could see a white man in front becoming increasingly irate (disgusted glances back, muttering, snarling, swearing) so I was preparing for some kind of conflict but he just made a big scene of moving away from us in the end.

I know it’s not a solution for everyone but if things keep going the way they are, we are quite happy to leave the UK. We’re lucky we have support in other countries and transferable jobs so we’ll just take our highly educated, multilingual, tax-paying selves somewhere else!

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Aderyn19 · 29/11/2019 13:16

I also don't believe that immigrants should have exactly the same rights as citizens. If you want them, then apply for citizenship. I think it's fair for new immigrants to have health insurance and their rights to use the nhs and receive benefits should be accrued after a number of years as a taxpayer.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:16

@AutumnRose1 ” I’m also sick of the assumption that I can’t be British as I’m not white, which OP, you seem to be saying. ” I’m sorry it came across that way, I think I tried to clarify it earlier, that would certainly be a very offensive view which I do not hold at all. I think the reason I singled out white British individuals was because I assumed that people who had experienced marginalisation of some sort (as most people who are not white British probably would have, given how society is) would understand how it feels to marginalise others, and strive not to do so. But as you say it is more complicated than that and people have lots of reasons for voting it. This is the whole purpose of this thread- for me to understand and challenge my assumptions and thereby affect my feelings which are causing me distress.

I have also tried to reflect on why it is that I specifically feel threatened by people who look a certain way, and that’s maybe because I was equating their looks (flag tattoo, or similar) with a political view, which I can see is inaccurate. Just because someone has a England flag tattoo doesn’t mean I can guess their political views (it just feels that way to me - I have more reflection to do on that maybe)

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OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 13:16

It is outrageous that EU citizens who have built their lives in the UK and who were given the legitimate expectation that they could do this as equal citizens are having rights removed based on a decision in which they had no say it’s not outrageous- they could apply to become British if they feel so part of Britain.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:18

@Aderyn19 it’s not that simple. For many, citizenship is prohibitively expensive and you may have to forfeit your other nationality/ies. That’s a big deal.

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