Brexit: an immigrant’s view
I came to the U.K. in 2013 after living in the Republic of Ireland for more than three years. I came to the U.K. firstly as a European citizen, then as an Italian citizen knowing I would be welcome into a country that was a member of the European Union and that had a history of protecting civic and human rights that dated hundreds of years.
That country does not exist anymore: it’s been wiped out the morning of the 24th of June 2016. The United Kingdom I have known for the past 3 years, the country that I have called my home, that I have paid taxes to, where I have bought my first home has been taken from me with no appeal.
In 2013 I thought I entered the U.K. with rights equal to British citizens, but I was wrong. I could exercise the right to vote only once in those 3 years, for the mayor of the city I live in — London — but I could not vote for the government election in 2015, nor could I vote for the EU referendum. To the British government I am good enough to pay taxes, be a good respectful citizen, but I am not good enough to decide if I want the country I am living in to stay and be part of the biggest political project of the past century: the European Union.
On the morning of 24th of June I was not in London nor in the U.K., I was far away in another country that knows a good deal about painful divorces from the British people: India. In the breakfast hall of the hotel the TV was airing news about the result of the vote. A giant infographic showing the 52% of the ‘Leave’ votes was on display while families were having chapattis and omelettes, sipping chai tea next to our table and waiters were taking orders from other hotel guests. My manager, a brilliant young man from Hull was looking at the screen and shaking his head in disbelief.
It’s now the 23rd of September; 3 months have passed from the eve of the vote and I realise even more than on the morning of the vote, how I and all other millions of European citizens living in the U.K. have been cheated. Cheated into believing we were part of a union, part of a whole despite the cultural difference, cheated because me and all other EU nationals are now living in a country that simply is not the same we all landed in at the start. That country has been taken from us with no voice, no arms, no power to make it come back.
The future the British citizen have chosen for me is uncertain, unfriendly and unfair. I started realising it for real only a week after the vote, when at the airport to take our flight back to London I noticed that the “I’M IN” sticker on my boss’ backpack had somehow disappeared.