Imagine you lived in a place for years, had made it your home, raised a family, worked there, paid your taxes only to then be told you are worth no more than a bargaining chip in a political game? This is the world we inhabit in our so-called Great Britain at the moment. I was touched personally at the stories of EU citizens who face continued uncertainty over their future if we decide to leave the European Union. These have been compiled into a wonderful book by Elena Remigi with the help of Véronique Martin and Tim Sykes called In Limbo – Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK. In Limbo tells the human tales of the ground floor impact of our heartless strategies to use our EU citizens as human shields. Heartbreaking insights from people who have been so badly let down by our so-called Government that works for all. I feel ashamed to be called British in the knowledge that our European friends are being used as in this way just to prop up an internal political party squabble.
You might be thinking … “but didn’t Theresa May offer our EU citizens security just the other week?” On the surface it might look like that. Look again :
- The current “settled status” on offer basically reduces rights of people who have lived, worked and paid taxes in the UK.
- EU citizens are not necessarily allowed to stay in the UK if they are married to a British citizen. Just imagine how you would feel if your Government told you that?
- Some people say things like “We didn’t mean YOU when we voted to leave.” So who DID you mean when you voted Leave? How do you decide that I can stay but my neighbour can’t?
- People also say “Why did not not get citizenship?” Because you need Permanent Residency first, it costs a fortune and many people are happy being an EU citizen.
On a personal level, Brexit has divided my family after I walked out of my own house at a Sunday tea, when my brother in law told me to “get over the referendum”, claiming that there were 2 million rapists waiting to come to the UK from Berlin. He had clearly been brainwashed by our populist media. We have not seen them since … and this division is not going away, despite the nonsense protestations of our political leaders. I was also punched in my local area soon after the referendum so one does not even have to be an EU citizen to face xenophobia from Leave voters. Below are two extracts from In Limbo.
I cried at the dentist’s today. My dentist is lovely and my teeth are OK. I don’t cry easily and it really took me by surprise. But he asked me kindly how I had been since our last appointment six months ago and I told him what Brexit has meant to me and my husband. After thirty years of life in this country and twenty seven years married to a British citizen, I am not entitled to Permanent Residency. This is because I’ve never had the Comprehensive Health Insurance (CSI), illegal according to EU standards, which is only now being imposed as a necessity. I told him about feeling betrayed, let down and abused by the government who did not do the humane and moral thing by us and our families. And who also betrayed and let down the Brits in relationships/marriages with EU citizens as well as the Brits living in the EU, who are now reduced, as we are, to mere bargaining chips. Then suddenly, in the silence of his room, with his kind and bemused eyes on me, lying on the chair as on a psychiatrist’s sofa, I heard my voice break and tears started rolling down my face. I felt mortified but it made me realise the amount of stress and sadness I have been carrying inside for the past eight months. I know that, sadly, my fellow EU citizens here feel exactly the same.
As an Englishman living in Germany and denied a vote, my perspective is different to that of the Europeans in the UK, but we share similarities all the same. It’s only since I’ve been abroad (and particularly since the dreadful vote of June 23rd) that I have come to fully appreciate just how I was subject to the drip, drip, drip brainwashing as a child and growing up in England. We were the British, victors of WW2 and by default better than everyone else. It was the Great Escape and the Dambusters every holiday on TV. I even read war comics like Victor and Commando where the Germans were the square-jawed aliens uttering robotic sayings like “Achtung, Achtung” and “Surrender, Englischer Schweinhund!” Everything we did had to be slightly different – drive on the left, imperial weights and measures, even ‘Jeux Sans Frontières’ on TV couldn’t be translated literally (it had to be called ‘It’s a Knockout!’ – which made no sense at all). ‘The Continent’ was somewhere away across the water, full of people who were inherently inferior somehow, even if it wasn’t expressed directly in those terms. Somehow, I managed to ditch most of this nonsense baggage I’d been saddled with. Marrying a German and experiencing other Europeans first-hand has taught me the truth of the situation. Empire days are long gone. We need Europe. Forty years of progress are now being thrown away. My sister and my best friend in the UK voted Leave. I don’t recognise the country anymore and don’t want to be associated with it now. I hate what this ridiculous Referendum has done to my country and my relationship with people who are close to me. I truly believe that future generations will condemn this period in our history in the same way that we now look back at the madness of the First World War.
Bower, UK citizen living in Germany
Elena will be present at the No 10 Vigil this Friday 7th July if you would like to meet her and talk with her about the book. I continue to fight for a Better Britain in a Stronger Europe and I hope that these people will get the justice they deserve. Find In Limbo on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle book. Check out the In Limbo Facebook page. As for me, the way forward can be summarised in 6 words starting with a B:
We finish with some punchy satire that sums up the illusions of some people about EU citizens living in the DisUnited Kingdom from 4N Boyz:
Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. He also leads the musical direction of the No 10 Vigil, designed to Stop Brexit Dead. Find out more about his plans finish the job at Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain.