Last 30 days, after a 10 years of residing in London, my spouce and i packed in the contents of our own two-bedroom level and relocated to France with the 15-month-old kid. With one more baby along the way, we’re hiring an apartment within Toulouse whilst we choose a more long term setup. Departing friends and family at the rear of, and getting in order to grips with a brand new culture plus language, hasn’t been simple. But we now have no programs to return towards the UK.
Exactly what sold all of us on Italy? The much healthier work-life stability and superb education program, plus the proven fact that we’re fortunate enough to have work opportunities that permit us to operate remotely. Eventually, though, there is one aspect that cemented our choice to emigrate: Brexit.
The most recent data from your Office regarding National Data shows that internet migration through the EU in order to Britain offers slumped to some six-year reduced. Numerous areas of the economic climate, from technology and academia to the NHS, have been strike hard. Plus it’s not exactly that EU nationals are switching their shells on the UNITED KINGDOM – within the year following the referendum, seventeen, 000 Brits sought citizenship of another EU country, according to figures collated from embassies. The Brexodus is fully under way.
A common refrain among the Brexiles I speak to is that they no longer recognise the country they grew up in. Raised in Northern Ireland, I’ve always grappled with my national identity. I was born in west Belfast and have an Irish passport – yet until I moved across the Irish border to study at university, my cultural references were, by and large, British. I watched Gladiators on television and read The Famous Five. I bought pic’n’mix from Woolworths and wanted to be Anneka Rice. I saw enough of the fallout from the Troubles to realise from an early age the dangers of unchecked patriotism. So when I moved to London, I refused to dwell on historical grievances and embraced everything that was great about the UK. In the 2012 Olympics, I felt a surge of pride for my homeland.
Nearly three years after the EU referendum, I no longer feel the same connection. A French friend, whose children were born in London, moved her family to Dublin last summer. She felt increasingly uncomfortable about the rise in xenophobia (Home Office figures showed that hate crimes rose by a third from 2016-2017) and wanted her daughters to be “raised European”. Many Irish friends have returned home, too, uneasy with “jokes” made by colleagues and acquaintances about the Irish famine, shocked by the ignorance of many of their English peers.
Nationalism isn’t confined to the UK. Nearly half of young French voters backed the Front National leader, Marine Le Pen, in the country’s 2017 general election. But aren’t we better off wading through this mess together? When my husband and I lived in London, we became good friends with a neighbour, a retired diplomat in his 80s. He had loved serving his country, including a stint in the USSR during the cold war. These days, he no longer identifies as British, but as a citizen of the world. He saw postwar Europe unite and remembers the devastation that led to the formation of the EU.
In a world of increasing uncertainty, I’ll take a bunch of bureaucrats over going it alone any day – even if that means uprooting. I spoke to four others who feel the same way.
Pip Batty, 40, a communications consultant, originally from Leicester, moved to Georgia in November. She now works in Tbilisi as an English language teacher
I never thought I’d move to Georgia. It was just a place I went to on holiday last year and thought was brilliant. It’s a beautiful country and the people are so welcoming. I’m half Greek, and had been learning Greek for five years with the intention of emigrating there someday. Then Brexit happened. Suddenly, it started to become more challenging: a potential employer in Greece, who had been happy to offer me work, asked, “You have a Greek passport, right? ” When I told him I was born in England, he just said, “Oh. ”
In a country where the economy isn’t great and you have two people applying for the same job – one from Germany, where there’s freedom of movement and they know what’s going to happen in future, or a British person – you know who they are going to choose.
After the referendum, I thought everyone had lost the plot. There are people I don’t speak to any more because I know how they voted and I’m furious with them. People who were aware of my plan to move to Greece, people whose children are dating foreign nationals, how could they vote for Brexit? They weren’t thinking about any generation apart from their own.
Two years after the referendum, we’re an international laughing stock. It’s humiliating to be British. My students ask why we’ve done this. One Russian student said, “To us, it’s like you voted to make yourselves the Soviet Union. We lived through that. Why would you vote to isolate yourselves from everyone else, when you were the linchpin of this wonderful treaty? ”
I’d like to try to get to Greece at some stage, but I’ll have to see what happens. I don’t want to say I’ll never come back to the UK because I will always be British. I’ve been told I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face, but I feel very strongly about this and will do for years to come. We’ve been wronged.
Journalist Alex Rawlings, 27, moved to Barcelona last November. He speaks 15 languages and holds Greek and British passports
After spending a few years living in Hungary, Spain and Russia, I moved back to the UK shortly before the 2016 referendum. I was really excited about being in cosmopolitan, international London. This was the UK I had grown up in, a country that had been proud of its multiculturalism, its ability to welcome people from different backgrounds. A few weeks later, it voted to leave and that all evaporated. Had the UK really always been such a tolerant place? Or was it just a bubble?
I started to think about going back to Europe the next day. The fact that the Brexit debate centred so much on immigration made me uncomfortable. I grew up going to school with immigrants – my grandmother was an immigrant, many of my relatives are now immigrants elsewhere in the world. I’ve always thought of immigrants as some of the bravest, most honest and hardworking people I know. Our politicians’ words are a throwback to a time I thought we’d left behind. I wanted to move to a place where people go out on the streets and protest in their thousands, asking for more refugees.
At the end of October last year, a woman was punched on a London train in the rush hour for speaking Spanish on her phone. It was barely reported in the UK, but in Barcelona it was headline news. It was the first thing people asked me about when I arrived. The classic image of British people in Spain is of them walking around topless, shouting English, with noisy wheelie bags and cans of beer. A Spanish friend said, “We put up with so much from British people when they come to our country, yet we can’t even have a private phone conversation on your metro without being attacked. ”
The reason more people don’t move from the UK is because they don’t speak languages. We see the rest of the world as a place to go on holiday for a week or two. In Germany, everyone grows up learning English – people border-hop, live in other countries and embrace a European identity. It saddens me to think that young people growing up in the UK now may never experience that. Will I ever return to the UK? The problems that led to Brexit are so deep-rooted I think it’s going to take another generation to sort them out. One day, I like to think that I will go back, but for the time being I’m glad to no longer be living in limbo. The moment I stepped on to that one-way plane, I felt huge relief. I’d disentangled myself from a very uncertain future.
Emma Bell, 28, worked in London as a cancer researcher. She moved to Toronto, Canada, at the end of January
A bunch of my friends set up a Facebook group about moving to Berlin after the vote. There are plenty of opportunities there in fintech [financial technology], but not for the type of cancer research I do. So I started looking for postdoctoral positions in other countries. Ultimately, Toronto pipped Sweden to the post.
The main things I worried about were access to funding, being able to ship chemical samples to mainland Europe and what would happen to my colleagues. Roughly a third are EU citizens. The institution I worked for has been supportive, but there’s a lot of anxiety. I empathise with people who are stockpiling their medications in the UK; I need antidepressants to function, myself.
Mum is Sri Lankan and Dad’s a Geordie. I grew up in Hertfordshire and was usually the only non-white person in the room. You get used to it, but I definitely felt “other”. Moving to London for university was a revelation.
Brexit has made me look at my country differently. I always wore a poppy for Remembrance Day and switched to a white one a few years ago. You could see it in my profile picture on the dating site OK Cupid and the comments I got were unbelievable. It does feel as if the language used has become more hostile. I don’t think it’s inherent racism; immigration has been scapegoated.
If Brexit were stopped tomorrow, I wouldn’t come home. My contract in Toronto is for two years, with a possibile extension to four, and I’m staying for the duration. I’m uneasy in the UK at the moment. Maybe the distance will help me process those feelings. The logistical nightmare that Brexit is going to be, both for individuals and the field in which I work, is one thing. But whatever caused it isn’t going to disappear if we have another referendum and it ends up 52: 48 in the other direction.
Irish-British software developer Chris Ward, 34, grew up in Corby, Northamptonshire, and lived in London before moving to Berlin with his husband, Josh
We had been planning to live abroad at some point, but made the call on 24 June 2016. Josh and I were heavily involved in the remain campaign, turning our tiny flat into a hub on the day of the vote. At the time, I likened Brexit to the Scottish referendum, where everyone was panicking a few weeks beforehand but, when it came to it, voted for the safe option, the status quo.
Afterwards, I went through a very unhealthy, spiteful stage that I’m not quite out of yet. I stopped speaking to people who voted leave. One was a close friend, and I regret that now, but I’m not sure how to get back in touch. Fellow campaigners went in a different direction. They thought they could stop Brexit and would say to me, “Why don’t you stay and fight? ” But you can’t fight battles that can’t be won.
Everyone keeps saying we don’t know what people voted for. Of course we do: the main issue was immigration. I was born in Germany on a British army base and moved to the UK when I was seven. On my first day at school, the teacher mentioned my background and immediately there was this wave of xenophobia. So I always knew Britain had its populists, but I thought it had a liberal heart beating within.
Berlin is my favourite city. It’s so liberal, diverse and cheap, and there are plenty of jobs in tech, so it was a natural choice. I’ve got Irish citizenship, as my grandparents were Irish, and my goal in the next few years is to become German. If Britain isn’t in the EU, I’ll have to surrender my citizenship and I am fine with that. We’re lucky – some of our friends here have only British passports and are worried that they will be told to go home.
Germans have a rose-tinted view of the British as being wonderfully polite and nice. They are sad about Brexit, but have moved on. The UK banked on everyone going, “Don’t leave! We’re sorry we asked you to do the same thing every other country was doing! ” Maybe now the politicians will realise the world is bigger than Great Britain.
Brexit is the failure of the progressives, rather than the work of the hard right, and that’s what makes me sad. The left failed to challenge it and as a result, we’re leaving the world’s largest trading bloc. If Brexit has been good for anything, it has made people on the left realise how important it is to stand up for globalisation and cohesion.
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