Please, don’t leave!
I’m anxious about the outcome of the referendum, and not just because it will complicate my move to the UK.
It’s 31 degrees Celsius in Vienna. I pick up my phone, swipe left twice to check my weather apps: 19 degrees in Edinburgh. My sigh is a mixture of relief, envy and impatience. I can’t wait to finally move there.
Yes, my partner and I have decided to move to the UK.
Our reasons for picking the UK were mainly emotional: we’re both anglophiles, we love the weather, we feel at home there, we enjoy customer service and being able to get gluten-free foods. And have you seen the landscapes???
But we’re also rational people: the UK is more entrepreneurial than Austria, more open-minded, its tax and insurance system is a lot less crippling to small business owners than the one here.
Giddy with a side of anxious
We made the decision years ago, but now is finally the time we can follow through. Circumstances finally allow it, the stars have aligned, so to speak. We are excitedly planning and researching.
Sometimes, one of us will randomly grab the other by the shoulder and yell: “WE’RE MOVING TO SCOTLAND!”
We’re giddy with excitement.
But today, I find myself anxious, nervous, more crabby than the melting heat in Vienna alone would explain. I realise… I’m nervous about the outcome of the UK referendum.
And not just because we are planning to move there. I would care about the outcome even if we hadn’t decided to move to the UK. Because I absolutely believe that Brexit would be the beginning of the end.
A domino effect of economic decline
Let’s assume for a moment the UK votes “leave” today. What happens next? For one, the EU would have to impose very harsh economic sanctions to deter other countries from leaving the Union. It needs to hurt you if you leave.
However, even if the UK leaves the Union it doesn’t leave Europe. It would still be in the same geographical and economical region. And I don’t know much about economics but I’m pretty certain that when one large part of a region takes an economic punch to the stomach, everyone else will feel it too.
→ All of Europe would suffer from Brexit.
The other option the EU has is not to punish the UK for leaving. But that just opens the door for the forces clamouring for an exit in other member countries. Austria is no exception to this; we regularly have some right winger or another screaming their heads off about how terrible the EU is for us.
→ All of Europe would suffer from Brexit.
You’re saying goodbye to peace and stability
What is so bad about these decades of peace and relative economic stability in Europe? What is so bad about member states having to follow the Union’s lead when it comes to human rights? Without the EU, we’d probably still not have a civil union in Austria. So who cares about them fucking bananas???
The real reason, the biggest motivator of the “leave” campaign, is fear. Fear of “the immigrants”, fear of “the other”. But do people really believe that the refugees will just magically disappear if the EU disappears? The EU is a political, legal entity — it’s not physical, it’s not going to sink like fucking Atlantis and take all the refugees with it, never to touch the borders of the UK again.
They’re still going to be there, knocking at your doors. The only difference will be that you will have to deal with the situation all by your lonesome. And if you keep locking them out, they’ll find other, less safe, more terrifying ways to come in. And that’ll be on your conscience.
And, once you leave, what will be next? Right-wingers will always find something to be afraid of.
“The good immigrant”
Let’s be honest, if Brexit really happens, chances are pretty high that my partner and I will still be allowed to stay in the UK. As white Western Europeans, we will be the epitome of the “good immigrant”. We will be expats, not refugees. After all, the only thing we’re fleeing is global warming.
The question is: how much will we enjoy living in a country that distinguishes between us and other immigrants by skin colour? How much will we enjoy living in a country that has cut itself off from its surroundings, not realising that it’s actually cut off its own appendages, economically and politically?
Nonetheless, it’s quite likely that we will move to Edinburgh regardless of the outcome of the referendum. Partly because we’re confident that Scotland would strive for independence again and rejoin the EU on their own. Partly because we’ll probably have at least two years before they start kicking people out. Mostly, because we just can’t stand the 31 degrees Celsius here in Vienna.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t care about the outcome.
So, please, don’t leave.