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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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Aderyn19 · 29/11/2019 13:20

It's not Britain's fault though if other countries don't allow their citizens to have more than one nationality. This was the case for my mil. My DH also had to choose when he turned 18.
I agree about the cost though - I think it's far too expensive.

viccat · 29/11/2019 13:23

I'm an EU immigrant too, been here for 15 years. I haven't personally experienced much hostility before or after the referendum, but it is extremely sad to constantly hear immigrants blamed for all the problems the UK has. Every time I watch a news programme these days, there seems to be some vox pop from a quiet shopping centre with someone saying "we don't want those people coming in taking up all our NHS resources, we want our country back". (The problems of the NHS are NOT the fault of EU immigrants!)

I also think there's this view about "good" and "bad" kind of EU immigrants. A professional, educated person from Scandinavia or France may be welcomed but Eastern Europeans seem to be fair game for abuse. Every time someone posts about crime or antisocial behaviour in the local town Facebook group, it doesn't take long before someone pipes up to say it's the Romanians, they are animals... and it seems to go unchallenged again.

Personally I've always planned to eventually become a citizen as I'm intending to live here permanently. It seems fair enough and I'm keen to be able to vote in all elections. I also don't have a problem with a system for registering (as PPs have said), but of course the Settled Status scheme is not about registering, it's an application - you can be denied settled status. I got mine but can you imagine having to apply for the right to stay if you've built your whole adult life here, own your home, have a job or a business here and so on... My home country maintains a really thorough register of everyone living there so I have no problem with that, just the way its done in the UK now through this application system. If you invite people to come here with no checks then it doesn't seem fair to change that 10 or 20 years down the line... it's like signing a contract and suddenly being told the terms and conditions are changing after all this time.

Rock4please · 29/11/2019 13:24

YANBU. I feel devastated that I am having my EU citizenship stripped from me and I wish there were a solution where you could opt in or out. I think Brexit has let a very ugly genie ie racism out of the bottle.

Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:25

@viccat yes those vox pops really make me upset too. I feel like I just want to have real conversations with them to explore the problems of the NHS rather than just hearing the narrow views reproduced ad infinitum

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AutumnRose1 · 29/11/2019 13:28

OP “ 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.

Yes and I’m glad you’re learning from this thread, but bluntly speaking, I DO feel that you made a whole set of assumptions about non white British people.

Just because I’ve experienced a particular prejudice doesn’t mean I’m going to say “no one must ever have hurt feelings”. Individual topics still need to be examined for individual factors.

It’s the damaging narrative that’s been going round this country for a while now. Like that poor lady in Rochdale who was labelled a bigot by Gordon Brown. Like Emily Thornberry horrified by the sight of an English flag.

How did it go so wrong?!

Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:43

@AutumnRose1 I can see your point and I really am trying to open my mind to all perspectives and appreciate you taking the time. From the other side I think the Rochdale thing can also be viewed differently. For example, the whole “there are too many immigrants from Eastern Europe” view is upsetting and offensive to someone like me because it does make it personal. It makes it sound not about introducing a points system or addressing skills gaps sensibly or something (which is a legitimate view - albeit one I don’t believe will work). It sounds like “we just don’t want foreigners”. It does exactly what you’ve (rightly) accused me of doing which is to lump people together based on a particular characteristic. addition...and maybe I am over-interpreting statements about “those (Eastern) Europeans” now- don’t you think that’s really what she meant / what others who repeat similar things mean? Because that’s how it sounds to me as a European an that’s why it’s upsetting. It does sound personal. Maybe it’s just a language thing and doesn’t reflect people’s actual views but it feels like the vox pops aren’t even trying to phrase things in a way that won’t be hurtful to Europeans, it’s like we’re fair game.

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 13:47

@AutumnRose1 I had to google the flag thing though, somehow missed that one! I’m baffled. Maybe this explains something I’m not getting...?

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AutumnRose1 · 29/11/2019 13:55

“ For example, the whole “there are too many immigrants from Eastern Europe” view is upsetting and offensive to someone like me because it does make it personal. It makes it sound not about introducing a points system or addressing skills gaps sensibly or something (which is a legitimate view - albeit one I don’t believe will work)”

I heard a woman asking a question based on what she sees and I do hear it as “what about a points system, why is there a lack of control”.

I’m interested to know why you don’t think a points system or equivalent will work btw.

My local GP surprised me with a comment last week. She gave no indication how she felt about in words but she looked upset. She said “we’ve been told we can no longer give double appointments to people who don’t speak English”. I didn’t know that was happening! I was a bit shocked.

I have hidden from politics for a while because I found it all very upsetting so I freely admit to being a bit clueless.

Charlottejbt · 29/11/2019 13:56

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.

The whole situation is farcical. Facing up to the reality of it, isn't. If FOM goes, travel to Europe will be a) a privilege rather than a right and b) dependent on international treaties which have yet to be agreed. You can visit the US and Canada because those treaties are currently in place; if they weren't, you couldn't. And Nigeria and Pakistan are third countries in relation to the EU, exactly as the UK will be. You don't appear to realise that Brexit has not happened yet, and that things will change radically once we fall out of the Single Market at the end of transition.

loobyloo1234 · 29/11/2019 14:03

I see quite a few Union Jack / St George’s flag tattoos

My DP has one of these. He voted Remain. You're welcome. And btw YABVU to generalise every Leaver as one. As always though, these threads turn into that same tedious point

OnlyFoolsnMothers · 29/11/2019 14:05

things will change radically once we fall out of the Single Market at the end of transition we will not be barred from travelling to Europe, worst case you will get a visa on arrival or complete an ESTA equivalent online for a fee- I see zero issue with this. Every country has the right to scrutinise who it lets in- it is not my right to go live and work in another country!

Practicalmagico · 29/11/2019 14:09

I’m from outside of the EU. I had to go through a lengthy visa application process in order to get here.
How is it fair that you were allowed in solely based on the fact you’re European?
If we leave the EU and a visa system comes into place for Europeans as well, I say good! Level the playing field for all immigrants and don’t discriminate against people from outside the EU. It should be the same process for all

Fiep · 29/11/2019 14:10

@AutumnRose1 interesting how things land differently. Maybe both sides need to consider whether language used might be offensive to some, and strive to stop using such phrases if so.

The reason I don’t think it’ll work is because the UK isn’t attractive enough to get away with it. Quality of life is relatively low compared to other countries with points systems, like Australia. For example in terms of weather, housing stock, quality of healthcare, work/life balance, etc. But my concern would be more about immigrants losing access to certain rights after the system gets changed. Britain is my home but I would sell my house and uproot my family to move to, for example, Australia, if it meant similar or worse rights in a place with better quality of life and much higher pay for skilled jobs. Why would I stay somewhere that charges me for the pleasure if other countries would pay twice as much to have me?

Also the unemployment rate is actually very low at the moment. There are probably a lot of reasons other than job availability/ immigration why a certain amount of unemployment will always persist. And those people need support, not empty jobs they are unable/ unqualified to do. I view it more as an austerity issue (lack of social care, training, mental and physical healthcare) that needs addressing rather than getting rid of immigrants. I suppose I can understand the concept of a points based system and it’s fair enough but it sounds like it always goes hand in hand with removing rights from immigrants which is why it would not work.

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Practicalmagico · 29/11/2019 14:11

I see quite a few Union Jack / St George’s flag tattoos
I’m not even from this country and I have a tiny St. George’s flag tattooed on me.
I love this country, this is why I chose to live here. I left my home and this became my home and I am so proud to live here.
The person who made this comment is so ignorant and narrow-minded. Stop being so judgemental!

Fiep · 29/11/2019 14:13

@loobyloo1234 thank you for your point. I think I already reflected earlier on that I was generalising and would try henceforth not to do so. I’m trying to have a mutually respectful discussion where we can all be open-minded and actually try to see each other’s points, would be nice if you read the posts carefully and responded in kind. I’m trying to build bridges and reduce our bubbles and I think snide comments where you just attack me are helpful

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 14:14

*unhelpful obvs

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Fiep · 29/11/2019 14:15

@Practicalmagico I think I already reflected on the fact that I feel threatened by it as I had equated the flag with not wanting me here. Kindness and education would go a long way rather than just shouting at me

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Alaimo · 29/11/2019 14:17

Another EU citizen here, and echo a lot of your opening post about how personal it all feels. I also find this very difficult to explain to Brits, especially ones who have voted to leave. I know it is nothing personal, but I can't stop it from feeling that way.

Not least because our lives (British DH & I) have been in limbo for the last year or so. I work in a very international field, and I have had three job offers in other EU countries this past year. But what can I do? Every time the offer has come through a few weeks before the Brexit deadline (two offers in September and one this month), so we expected that we'd be moving post-Brexit if I had taken the job(s). This means we'd have no idea what DH's status abroad would be, if he would be allowed to work, etc. Plus, if I take up an offer and move away for more than 2 years I'll lose my settled status and thus possibly my chance to move back to the UK.

Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 14:21

How is it fair that you were allowed in solely based on the fact you’re European?


because we are part of many reciprocal agreements/arrangements that sees us have many advantages -

what benefits and advantages do you see for post brexit britain?

Jeremybearimybaby · 29/11/2019 14:25

Scot remainer here. Please be assured not all of us are racist or xenophobic or bigoted towards immigrants. I resent my country being jollied along with something we overwhelmingly didn't vote for, as all councils in Scotland saw a remain majority.
Please do keep speaking to your child in your native tongue, the more languages we speak, the richer we are as a nation.

Helmetbymidnight · 29/11/2019 14:28

So when we make future trade agreements, you did understand that part of them might well be freedom of movement for workers? If you really were expecting Brexit to bring about a level playing field for immigrants, that was really quite a big mistake.

QuietlyFuming · 29/11/2019 14:39

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

How arrogant. You’re not showing yourself in a good light on this thread, Burnagirl.

burnagirl · 29/11/2019 14:52

I quite honestly don't care.

Practicalmagico · 29/11/2019 14:55

OP, you’re offended by the flag? Really?! I wasn’t ‘shouting’ at you either, I typed words on a screen that you read a certain way in your head.
It’s your choice to view the flag of this country in a certain way. Every country has a flag and people are allowed to be proud of the country they’re from. It’s not an attack on immigrants to display the flag

Practicalmagico · 29/11/2019 14:59

because we are part of many reciprocal agreements/arrangements that sees us have many advantages

Freedom of movement should never have been included in this. It’s racist that Europeans are allowed in with no issues while people outside the EU have to go through a massive process.

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