We asked our members and supporters to write about Brexit taking place one year from now.
On this page, you will read over 50 testimonies of EU citizens. It is an amazing insight into the psyche of a community of 3 million people (and of our British friends) and, surprise surprise, people are still in limbo!
I would like to take the opportunity to promote the excellent book ‘In Limbo’, published by Elena Remigi. She inspired us to ask people to write here, but the ‘In Limbo’ book goes into much further detail and is a stark reminder of what Brexit means for people like us.
We have gathered over 50 real-life testimonies of EU and British citizens this week, to reflect on being one year until Brexit.
They are unmoderated and they all tell a story of bewilderment, betrayal and confusion by the very people who lived and breathed the European ideals.
The last testimony is actually a beautiful poem, so make sure you don’t miss it.
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Laura, in the UK since 2015:
I moved back to the UK in early 2015 after a few years working in international development. Back then I felt I had moved countries too many times, and I was looking forward to settle down again in a city that had already been my home in the past. I got back in touch with old friends, I got a job and found a house, adjusting back to being in Europe once again, close enough to Italy to feel connected to my family without having to give up the feeling of living in a diverse and culturally stimulating environment. I had it all.
My London-honeymoon didn’t last much. A few months after I settled back the Brexit campaign begun, and after little more than one year since my arrival to the UK the results of the referendum were announced.
I guess my story is no different from the experience of the millions of us who have made the UK their home. Since June 2016 I had to say goodbye to friends who decided to leave because they didn’t feel at home here anymore, each time asking myself if it’s still worth it to stay. I have been worried for my future, unsure of whether I will be able to change employment as easily as I can do now after loosing the rights attached to my freedom of movement, or if I will be ever able to bring over my non-EU partner.
As negotiations have moved further my worries haven’t disappeared. Promises by the government that we will be taken care of, and that Theresa May wants us to stay, are paralleled by horror stories in the media of long-term residents denied cancer treatment because they lost the passport with which they arrived to the UK almost 50 years ago, or of families being kept separated because they don’t meet the income threshold. Over the summer a non-EU friend of mine was denied his visa because his British wife makes 10p per year less than the minimum required. It is hard to feel safe when I know that I will soon be at the mercy of the Home Office, the same department that is priding itself for lowering the number of non-British people residing in the country and that works within a framework known as ‘Hostile Environment’.
There is still one year before our rights will be taken away. So much has happened since March 2017 that is almost impossible to foresee what our lives will be like after the official cut-off date. Yet one thing is sure: in May we will have the opportunity to use our right to vote at local elections, possibly for the last time. I won’t miss this chance to vote out those responsible for all we’ve gone through.
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Anonymous, in the UK for over 30 years:
For years I was an EU citizen living in an EU country; now I am a foreigner living in Brexitland.
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Anonymous, British citizen:
From the day the news of the EU referendum vote was announced, my emotions have oscillated between sadness, anger, anxiety and shame. I am a UK citizen however I have lived in Italy and France and have an Italian partner (who is sick of me talking about Brexit!) but it is such a catastrophic mess in so many ways.
The Leave campaign played dirty to "win" but it is not about winning or losing, people's wellbeing, livelihoods and emotions are at stake here and it is not sufficient to take such a decision on the basis of a referendum result that should never have seen the light of day. I personally, still hope that the referendum result will be overturned as the public start to see the havoc it would wreak on the country. There is no doubt that no institution is perfect, and the EU is certainly not, but pulling out of a crisis is not a way to tackle the problem.
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Alexandra, in the UK for 5 years and 4 months:
I am a Romanian PhD student, researcher, and teaching assistant. I have a British partner, I have not been 'back' to my 'home town' since 2013. Home is in the UK for me and I am planning to stay.
My PhD is due to finish in 'Brexit year' 2019. It should be a year of celebration with my friends and family. Instead, I will be probably be waiting for an app to decide on my 'settled status' and waiting for my mother to come from Germany, where she recently moved, having spent the last years in the UK.
I expected the Leave referendum result - although I have lived in Remain towns (Brighton, London, and now Cambridge), my friends' circle is politically mixed both on the Leave-Remain and right-left lines. However, even my friends who voted Leave observe the complete lack of accountability in UK politics.
Vote Leave promised automatic grant of all existing rights. My friends who voted Leave expected people like me, and fellow EU27 nationals, to get an automatically issued indefinite leave to remain by post, in the eventuality of Brexit. Yes, I know, that perhaps impossible logistically speaking, but this is what seemed to be promised and believed by many.
There's one year left until Brexit and I am still in limbo, and so are most of my friends who could not go through the PR-UK citizenship route, cannot afford it or cannot do so on time. The rights of EU27 citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU27 is a sensitive political issue in the Brexit negotiations.
I do not believe a word of the Government spin that my rights are 'secured', because I can read the negotiations colour-coded tables and see for myself that rights have not been secured yet. 'Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed', remember. I worry about all those who do not have the time or the know-how to see behind the Government PR campaign. Moreover, I see that, with 'settled status', I will lose some of my existing rights, which politicians across the board promised will be preserved during the campaign. This is not a secret - the Government's own representatives from DExEU confirmed to me at an information event that not all my rights will be included in the new 'settled status'. But they only do so when asked; unprompted, they will sell the story of a 'secured deal', which is simply untrue. We all deserve proper information.
I cannot live my life 'as I do now' after Brexit, unlike promised by Theresa May. What does one year until Brexit mean for me? Probably another year of uncertainty, trying to correct, at every occasion I get, all lies that come from many of our elected politicians.
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Annette, in the UK for 37 years:
When I first came to the UK in 1981 I really loved how open and welcoming everyone was and I loved the cosmopolitan buzz and felt really included.
Since I have been living in the UK, I really believed that I was a part of British society until I woke up on the morning of 24th June 2016.
When I turned on the news on that morning to find out the referendum result, my first reaction was one of deep shock, sadness and devastation.
But most of all I felt betrayed! I felt deeply let down. I felt that the country where I had lived for most of my life, the country I had learned to love, had turned against me. I suddenly did not feel welcome anymore.
As there is still no clarity on the status of EU citizens 20 months on, I chose to take matters into my hands and have now got my permanent residence card so that I can apply for British citizenship.
I am deeply distressed that citizens of EU27 countries as well as British citizens living in the EU still don't know what their status will be if Brexit does go ahead. Even after I have acquired British citizenship, I am continuing to campaign on behalf of EU27 citizens to retain their current rights. Not everyone can afford the expense of citizenship application.
In light of recent allegation regarding the outcome of the referendum, if whatever is alleged is true, I hope that this will be the end of the nightmare we are living through.
Costanza, in the UK for 23 years:
I feel that since that fateful 23 June 2016 I have grown so much and that my life has radically changed. I remember mournfully walking past the houses of parliament on 29 March 2017 and then bring cheered up by meeting up with my friend Nicolas (Hatton), who was stuck on the green giving interviews on that fateful day. Being with the3million over the past 15 months has been the best anti-Brexit therapy I could have ever hoped for! So, as I take stock of all we've been through....warts and all....
I can hold my head up high and look defiantly at what's to come over the next year. Despite having taken the sad decision to leave the UK this summer due to a combination of Brexit fatigue, work and family reasons, I know that I'll always be involved in the struggle in some shape or form even from exile. I know that the friendships that were forged in this Brexit fire will last no matter what and that we will always be there for each other. So bring it on and let's charge forward together.
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Hedwig, in the UK for 17 years:
What does 1 year 'till Brexit mean to me? One more year of emotional turmoil varying from despair, sadness, careful optimism, hope, disappointment, resilience, feeling strong, feeling weak, being tired, energised, anxious, motivated. Sometimes I feel like all of it and everything in-between even in one day. Will we have more certainty today next year? Or will the transition period prolong our uncertainty and confusion? But what I do know is, that in the course of the coming 365 days I will meet inspiring, wonderful, lovely, supportive and exceptional people and that together we will not give up.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 50 years:
I have lived and worked in the UK for 50 years. The UK was my country and I always felt I belonged here. Brexit has changed all that, although I have never personally encountered any unpleasantness, as I am lucky to live amongst likeminded people for whom nationality is irrelevant when it comes to friendships. I took the pragmatic decision at the beginning of the year to apply for British citizenship, that was very quickly granted. I did not want to be a second class citizen in post-Brexit UK, but being a British citizen has not change my that Brexit represents a collective suicide, or my sympathy for my fellow Europeans caught in this madness.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 13 years:
I never came to the UK to be a guest. I worked hard, I volunteered in multiple organisations, I bought a house, I became a British citizen, too, so that I could fully contribute to its political life. And now, my country - because the UK is my country - has been hijacked into believing that they are better off alone, nostalgic of some imperial delusion. The EU is far from being perfect, but democratic tools can be used to make it better. Division is wrong.
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Angela, a British citizen:
I am not one of the 3 million, but I have tirelessly campaigned to #StopBrexit since June 2016 largely because of the injustice facing those EU nationals who have been utterly betrayed by the Brexit result and the way in which the Government is handling it. Whilst I am devastated to lose my EU Citizenship as a British national, I can only imagine what it must feel like to be treated as a bargaining chip, to live in limbo and to feel unwanted in a country which should be your home.
I am ashamed of the overt xenophobia experienced by so many and I am angry that our friends, neighbours and those who provide much-needed vitality and diversity in our society are seen as nothing more than an unwanted nuisance, when the truth is just the opposite; the 3 million are an essential part of the UK economy and enrich Britain in so many ways. Until they are treated as decent, equal human beings, I shall not cease my fight to #Stopbrexit.
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Corinne, in the UK for 14 years:
One year to go. One more year of worrying, that will intensify with each passing day. I can barely remember how life was like before the 23rd June, 2016. I still remember the feeling of absolute despair that gripped me the morning after, going into work and seeing one of my work colleagues dancing around wearing a Union Jack tie. I burst into tears there and then. I called my solicitor who was dealing with my house purchase, asking him to stop my purchase, as what non-British EU citizen in their right mind would want to buy a house in the UK now?
Unfortunately, it was too late to pull out. I remember this day, the day after the EU referendum, like it was yesterday. This wall that went up between the British and the non-British on that day, a little bit out of nowhere, hit me with full force. I was supposed to sing with the Military Wives Choirs the following Sunday for Armed Forces Day as I was still married to a British soldier then I pulled out of this event, as I felt, I just couldn't sing God Save the Queen anymore. I also felt that I had no right to sing it, even had I wanted to. All these feelings are still here today. Nothing's changed. I torture myself every single day with what ifs. It is hard.
I am now divorced with a 12-year-old daughter and work full time. I live in an area that can be classed as Brexit heartland. I struggle every day with the apathy of most people. None of my British friends seem to care or are interested about what it all means for people like me. I get asked at least once a week by a well meaning person: Why don't you just go back? It hurts.
I came to the UK 14 years ago. Not for a job, as I had a brilliant career back in Switzerland (I am Swiss and Belgian) but because the man I married was a British soldier. I made my life here. My daughter started secondary school last September, and I would rather not have to uproot her at this stage. I am also not entirely sure where I would be going back to? Back to where I grew up, or back to where I lived for 10 years before leaving for the UK or somewhere else altogether?
Where is home? I no longer know. I have lost all sense of belonging and that in itself is tough. I don't feel I can talk to anyone about this either. My British friends don't want to hear about it and family and friends on the Continent don't quite grasp what is happening either. So I heavily rely on the 3million and In Limbo-Brexit testimonies groups, which give me support at least via Social Media. Thanks to them, I know that I am worthy, that I am not a second class citizen, that I matter.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 40 years:
Brexit has been an enormous change for me in regards to living in the UK. I used to defend British people, ideas and the food but have been less enthusiastic now because after 40 years living very happily alongside the Brits I now feel a definite cooling of feelings between both sides. I fell in love with a Brit and we made our life in this country but the hurt of 'the people's choice' has gone very deep in my psyche, so much so that I have received therapy to help me cope better. People I know and who voted for Brexit keep telling me they didn't vote against me, but I have to tell them that I represent Europe and therefor it is hurtful but I feel it is too late now. It seems that a small amount of MP's are having the power to change things for good and once it's gone it's gone!
I thought I had lost all my documentation since I arrived in 1978 because I never really needed it. Luckily I have found everything in the bottom of a drawer. The future is not clear anymore and it is affecting my and my husbands life quite a bit! I am in my 60's and am debating whether I need to change my live to safeguard our future together, either here or in Europe. I feel I am living on a parallel universe, I don't seem to be in this universe anymore!
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Nadia, in the UK for 9 years:
As of today, Brexit is only one year away. On the day Britain is set to leave the EU, I will have lived here for exactly 10 years. That's longer than I have lived anywhere else in one stretch.
For me, countries, nationality, and home are less defined than they are for many people, less restrictive. I am a biracial, multilingual German whose parents are from two different countries and who has lived in three. So to me home is not a place, but more an emotional state. Home is contentment, happiness, fulfilment. Home is not Germany or Britain, Frankfurt or Bath. Borders, those artificial constructs, lose their meaning when you experience life in different places, and so does nationality with its narrow classification of who we supposedly are.
When the referendum result was announced, I cried. I had just got engaged to the British man for whom I moved here so many years ago and all of a sudden things were getting complicated. Not through any fault of our own, but because of politics. I stopped preparing for British citizenship because something had been broken.
I know that if I had been unattached, I would have left right after the referendum. Ain't nobody got time for that, as one lady so eloquently put it. I know the resulting political lurch to the right will reverse itself given time, it always does eventually.
I got married 6 months ago and am not planning to leave. Yet. I don't want to uproot my husband, who has lived here all his life and knows nothing else. There are, however, lines that, if crossed, mean I will take my husband and move elsewhere where both of us are welcome. Unlike many British citizens, we won't be trapped.
Brexit not only affects us foreign EU nationals in the UK, but also our British spouses, children, friends, employers and more. And I hope that with the help of the3million people like me and those who know me can live our lives as before. I have been happy here. I found love in a country I never really wanted to move to. But you don't get to choose who you fall in love with - or where.
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Blandine, in the UK for 25 years:
I am very angry with this government who took away my life with a very aggressive propaganda full of lies which they tried to cover up with the help of right wing media.
The day of the referendum was supposed to be a very happy day, my daughter succeeded her degree even her disabilities. I always said that England help my daughter through inclusion education. I was in France as the time doing a fell race. My rage didn’t vanish after this hard race in very hot condition. My anger was a knew emotion for me, I felt betrayed as I choose this country for multicultural acceptance and brought her my children with this openness to other cultures. I felt in limbo. I was a foreigner in my adopted country. Suddenly you were ask to go back home!!! It is so hurtful.
As many I work as a nurse always putting patients first. I joined the Liberal Democrats as I had to do something positive to cope with my anger, my loneliness. I went to marches where I met some people who felt like me. I met some lovely politicians and I followed them on social media. They became my hope that one day the Brexit will be over. End of an oligarchy.
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Monique, in the UK for 26 years.
Twelve months till Brexit. Twenty one months since the Referendum.
What a transformative journey this has been for me. I started off as someone who wasn't remotely political, and hadn't even paid that much attention to the referendum campaign as I didn't have a vote anyway, and most people I knew were voting remain. I didn't see the warning signs.
But ever since waking up on that Friday, my life has been tipped upside down, going through all stages of grief, though possibly not in the correct order.
The pain I felt walking to work that day, genuinely feeling bereft, rejected by the very streets and houses around me. The denial surely the country wouldn't actually go through with this? Surely they wouldn't mess around with citizens' rights like this? Surely they'd at least go for a pragmatic Brexit? The anger receiving a PR rejection letter with the words 'make preparations to leave the country' after living here for 24 years, being powerless to fix it despite phoning, writing, emailing, going through my MP.
Anger too at my British friends who just refused to see how distraught I was, who felt I was taking it all a bit too much to heart ('but you'll be ok!'). The loneliness of now feeling separate, different to them, knowing they didn't want yet another Brexit discussion but feeling utterly unable to talk about anything but Brexit.
Then a full 6 months later - meeting the3million, at the same time as coping with sudden media attention due to my PR rejection story going unexpectedly viral. The surprise of reading other people's accounts with emotions exactly like mine, how strange and reassuring it was to know other men and women felt just as strongly.
I found myself getting involved with the3million 2017 was an intense roller-coaster of a year. On the upside there was the excitement of the House of Commons, House of Lords, European Parliament, Council and Commission, Dutch embassy, meeting many politicians I'd admired (and some not so much). Launching a Dutch dual nationality petition. Making truly fantastic friends from so many EU countries, from the British in Europe and In Limbo. On the downside, there was quitting my job because I couldn't cope, frequent disappointments from negotiation rounds, relentless hours of meetings, reading and writing documents, seeing the effect on my family, and a worsening of my own mental health.
In 2018, I've sadly had to take a step back and return to work. I'm calmer now but I've worked out that what really angers me is a sense of loss of democracy, and a falling out of love with the UK. I've become passionate about citizens' rights, proportional representation, I'm following every step of the Cambridge Analytica story. Remember those whistleblowers are actually pro-Brexit, but even they say this isn't about leave or remain anymore, it's about democracy, fairness, and truth.
I'd honestly be able to accept Brexit if I felt it truly was the informed will of the people.
Anonymous, in the UK for 25 years:
1 year to Brexit - What does it mean to me ? It means that I have had to make the decision to go for naturalisation in order to secure my future here. Easy peasy you say ? Not really. I am dyslexic, so studying for the 'Life In The UK' , never mind passing it, is a huge challenge for me. Then there is the financial aspect of it as the fees for naturalisation in the UK are astronomical compared to those in other European countries. But what choice do I have?
Us EU Citizens are still very much used as bargaining chips by a government who has given us no firm reassurances whatsoever - only empty promises. And I feel fear for the future, for how very isolated Britain will be from the rest of Europe. How expensive will it be for us to fly and see our families in Europe? My partner travels to Italy several times per month for work - will he still be able to do this ? The prices of food - they have already increased dramatically. How can we all afford to live here post- Brexit ? Yet I am staying, because my beloved London is my HOME.
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Irena, in the UK for nearly 3 years:
The result of the referendum took the ground from under me - and March 29 2017, a year ago, made what was first more like a bad dream a harsh reality. Life is a constant change, but I was used to the changes being either positive or problems I could tackle myself or that would sort themselves out somehow, with even the worst possible outcome somehow bearable.
All the rest - it didn't concern me. Not really. But last year I saw that the big global changes, the swing to the right, away from progressive globalism and openness to everyone and everything, affect my life pretty directly and unavoidably. I still believe in the good in people, yes, even in the good intentions of the UK government. Yet now I can see how precarious this belief is, and how little I can do to protect myself and my loved ones. There is no safety. Nowhere.
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Anonymous, in the UK since 1991:
I arrived in London in October 1991 full of excitement and dreams. This is what I'd wanted to do for a long time. I had always loved anything British: books, films, TV programmes. I understood and loved the British sense of humour, fairness and kindness.
I came with enough money to last me a couple of months and thought if I didn't find a job in that time I would return to France. As luck would have it, I found a job the first week with an airline because I was bilingual.
In 1994, I met and fell in love with my wonderful British husband and we married in 1996. I enjoyed being with his family and adopted them as I hope they adopted me. Everything was going well. I never felt different from any British person. I could do everything they could do (except understand or play cricket!).
Then, the Brexit Referendum happened. The night of the Referendum, I went to bed and the polls were predicting 52%-48% Remain. I was worried because I had heard a lot of callers on the radio wanting to Brexit. The next morning when I woke up, I saw that it was 52%-48% Leave. At first I thought there must be some mistake or someone was having a laugh. When I realised that it was real, I walked around all day in a kind of daze.
I decided I had to act to protect myself so I called the Home Office. I found out that I could not apply for citizenship without applying for Permanent Residence so I spent the money and applied in September 2016 and waited (without my passport) until December 2016. A week before Christmas I got a letter rejecting my application as self employed I did not reach the income threshold of ¬£18,500 and I did not have Comprehensive Sickness Insurance.
To top it all off, I was summoned in January 2017 to do Jury Service. I felt bittersweet about that. I was happy to do it but I could not help thinking that if I was good enough to be on a British jury, why wasn't I good enough to get Permanent Residence?
In desperation, I approached an immigration lawyer who advised, after looking at all options, that I get an European Economic Area (EEA) Residents' Card. I have received that but it has cost me a lot of money for limited protection if any.
It is not so farfetched for me to think the Home Office could consider me an illegal immigrant and try to after Brexit. It is a worry for me that's always there. I get so many But you married a British man... in disbelief.
I also get You'll be fine, they won't deport you. Nice words and genuine but there is no basis in fact for that at the moment. I can only hope things will get settled soon and I can carry on living my life without worrying about this anymore.
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Mick, a British citizen:
I'm from the UK but have been living in France for the past decade, albeit with only a British passport. Every day since the referendum result was announced has been a living nightmare. It's not just a case of living in limbo: it's a case of knowing that my existing rights (EU citizenship and EU voting rights, among others) could so easily be protected, but the UK government has set out to deliberately attempt to diminish my rights. I have a strong suspicion that Brexit isn't just about wanting to deport EU citizens from the UK, but also about deporting UK citizens who live in other EU member states back to the UK.
the3million and other groups have been doing a magnificent job in trying to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but there is virtually nothing being done to protect the rights of UK citizens living in the EU. It's like we don't exist. There are numerous small campaign groups, but they're all closed and elitist (you can't just sign up, you have to be invited to join) and show no interest in widespread coordinated action.
When Britain leaves the EU, I will be permanently and irrevocably stripped of the following fundamental rights:
My EU citizenship, which gives me the right to live, work, study and retire in the other 27 EU member states;
My European voting rights, which give me the right to vote for MEPs in European elections and to be represented by MEPs in the European Parliament.
I've written numerous letters to MPs and others about the extremely serious situation I'm in, but no-one wants to know. No-one ever bothers to reply. As far as UK MPs are concerned, I live abroad and therefore I'm not their problem even though it's the British Tory Government which has pursued the xenophobic and racist policy of taking the UK out of the EU. Theresa May said in the early days of Brexit that it was about arrangements going forward, not about unpicking the past, but that was a huge and outrageous lie. Of course it's about unpicking the past. The Draft Withdrawal Agreement is a piece of trash which wouldn't even be fit to use as toilet paper.
I've made it clear to the British authorities that the only way they're going to get me to go back to Britain after Brexit is in a body bag. And if they do succeed in sending me back there, I'll either stow away on board a lorry at Dover which is heading for the Continent, or I'll acquire a boat by any means possible and will sail back to the Continent on my own. This situation isn't going to get any easier, but I'm not giving up. I will NEVER go back to Britain again, as it's a racist hellhole which is currently run by fascists, morons and other extremists who are ideologically obsessed with dragging Britain out of our beloved EU.
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Ann, in the UK for 45 years:
I feel bereft. I chose in 1973 to leave Belgium, where I had grown up, and go work in London to investigate alternative education projects. I stayed and worked in a wide range of educational and regeneration programmes in the public and voluntary sectors for more than 40 years! I had 2 children, lived with my partner, bought a house.
I always felt so totally European. I am a war baby! My mother arrived in Gent with the WAAF in 1945, married my father and became Belgian as well as British. As I was born in Belgium, but only my mother was British, I could never be British. But it never mattered until the referendum as we were all European! My children both have dual nationality, British and Belgian. As a family we spent much time in Belgium and France.
Why France? because we liked it and had lots of friends there. We bought a property in Touraine so that we could all meet up there and spend time with friends and family. My daughter, a qualified physiotherapist, moved out there with her husband to work and enjoy a different quality of life with their baby ( also British and Belgian).
My son moved to Brussels with his wife because living in London was beyond their means. The excessive cost of housing and childcare being the main factor. My British husband and I were hoping to spend our retirement years living near our daughter in our house in Touraine while also having the option of spending time with friends and family in London.The Brexit referendum has put us in a situation of uncertainty, not knowing what our rights are, where our health insurance will come from. Will we have to grow old separately on either side of the channel or will we be able to grow old together in France if that is what we choose to do?
The referendum result has taken my choices and options away from me as well as creating an atmosphere that is really not very pleasant in the UK. I don't really see why I should now have to apply for British citizenship. I find it very distressing, depressing and disappointing at this stage of my life. Not at all what I had imagined for my children and grandchildren. My parents would be incredulous.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 5 1/2 years:
I needed to move from where I lived and was blessed with choice. Any country in the EU would have been great, but I settled for the UK. I chose England for several reasons, not least of which: the beauty of the countryside, the language and even the friendliness that I had experienced when visiting. I felt privileged to have such a choice. Leaving behind the ugliness of immigration and all that entails, arriving here was one of the best moments of my life. I was welcomed by everyone, made wonderful friends, got a great job and even married. It was a dream.
And then suddenly, with the referendum, that bubble burst with such a resounding blast that I still feel shattered a year on. The depression I'd been struggling with before moving came back with the force of a storm and every day since has been a struggle. If I'm not in the same boat as before moving here, I no doubt will be when the UK does leave the EU. Because after the mess that was the referendum, I have zero faith the government means it when they say they want me and all my fellow EU nationals to stay. They don't, I think that's been proven already. And this sentiment is widely reflected throughout the nation. I've experienced this first hand already. I've lost a few friends because of it. Even some of the people I work with have become awful.
I feel lied to. I feel as though every time someone has asked me where my accent is from, if maybe their motives were sinister, rather friendly curiosity. For as wonderful, friendly and welcoming as it was before, it now feels completely opposite to be here.
But I've made a life here now. I have settled. More than likely if it'd been only me and if I didn't have people relying on me now, I would've left. The country remains beautiful though. And without question, many people remain wonderful. But the thought of facing some sort of immigration status again, which let's be honest, is exactly what settled status is, makes me want to leave. I have experienced this before, I don't want to deal with it again. All I can do is hope that I won't have to.
Anonymous, in the UK since December 2010:
Late in 2010, the company I worked for back then relocated from Germany to the UK. This included me moving as well as I considered the position of a sole German-resident employee of a UK-based company undesirable if it could be avoided. Minus checking the home office web site for information, I didn't think much about it, to me, this seemed to be about the same as moving to a different city considering our 'modern times'.
About a month later the great "Who'll get to run the Tory party" (nothing else matters!) pseudo-EU-dance began and I learned a valuable lesson about both the worth of government promises and international treaties: None. Whoever wants to get rid of one will just fix a referendum giving him a 'mandate' (be its the outcome in the margin of measurement error) to do so. OTOH, as Heinlein once put it, there ain't no such thing as security and only fools believe otherwise.
Reportedly, the UK will enter into another international agreement possibly enabling me to regain "non-illegal immigrant status" somehow. But as it'll take just another 'referendum' to sort that as well, I see little practical benefit in it.
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Marianne, in the UK for 25 years:
I have had dual French and German citizenship since birth. I have lived in the UK since 1992, and applied first for residency and then for British citizenship after the referendum because I was worried sick about being able to continue to live here with my partner who is British. It is possible that due to his work we might move to France or the US for several years, and I was worried that I would not be able to move back to the UK as a non-British citizen.
I still worry every day about Brexit and what it will do to EU citizens living in the UK, UK citizens living in other EU countries, and the future for my daughter and her generation in a Europe where the UK is no longer a member of the EU. I am concerned about people in the UK becoming more narrow minded, xenophobic and less inclusive.
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George, in the UK for 24 years:
I came to England from Milano following a job promotion at a large multinational. I worked. I paid taxes, lots of. I studied. I became entrepreneur. I hired people. I exported services all over the world. Payed salaries and lots of taxes. I won awards. Etc.
All these because this is a country where Respect (of each other and the law) and Fair Play WERE important.
Brexit FUBAR'ed all
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Nicole, in the UK for 29 years:
21 months after the referendum, and my rights as an EU citizen in the UK (29 years!) are still not fully secured. I also still can't have a conversation with someone about the sense of betrayal and hurt I felt after the referendum, in which after all we had no vote, without my voice breaking.
What has happened saddens me and infuriates me, and the wave of xenophobia that was risen to the surface is heartbreaking. I am not sure how I would have coped if I hadn't found the3million. There I can give focus to my feelings of helplessness, and I have made many great friends. I still hope Brexit won't go ahead, but if it doesn't at least I know I did my very best to help the 3.6 million people who ended up as bargaining chips!
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Marie, in the UK for 24 years:
I think I have always loved England.I come from a family of anglophiles and when I finally got to spend a year here as a gap year(this turned out to be much longer than a year) after my MA, it was a dream come true.I subsequently met my husband here who is British and we have a daughter who is a dual citizen.This was our personal victory against Brexit.My husband and I are both losing rights despite what the media say but she won't. I have always worked here, paid taxes and felt at home. Brexit changed that.
It firmly put me in my place and said to me: you are other. That is what Brexit is to me. A slap in the face, a rejection from part of this country I came to love more than my own. I say part of this country because I know a lot of Brits are as dismayed, sad and angry as I am. Unless you happen to be in our situation, the intense and deep feeling of rejection is hard to fully understand.
I cried on the day of the referendum. It seemed that a lot of people had a say in my future and I was not allowed a voice.
I think I am still crying inside and hope Britain is stronger than this and that this hideous nightmare will soon end. I cannot find anything remotely positive about Brexit and I wish I could leave. But my life is here and it is not something I am contemplating.I came to an open outward looking country , it is not the same any more. Life goes on as they say. I am lucky I have not been a victim of discrimination but Brexit has left a bitter taste in my mouth.
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Axel, in the UK for 20 years:
One Year to Go - The Roller Coaster of Brexit continues
Things that feel like yesterday to me: four years ago Germany won the Football World Cup, two years ago the Brexit referendum campaign was kicked off and only one year ago Article 50 was triggered. Now we are only one year away from actually leaving the EU. Time passes quickly, I have learned that over the last years. Another thing I have learned is that while time passes quickly politics is moving slowly. This is a great worry on my mind.
My citizens' rights have not been sorted. I still don't know what the new application system for Settled Status will look like. I still don't know how my rights will be protected in ten years time. I actually still don't know if I will still have those rights in 10 years time. It only takes one amendment or repeal in parliament to potentially change my way of life fundamentally. Who knows what government we have in 10 years time and how the mood against us, the immigrants, will be like then.
Before the referendum I felt like I was part of British society. After all, my wife, children and most my friends are British. I am not and no one cared. That feeling of belonging is gone now. There is a feeling of bereavement in the air. Friends make awkward conversation around me and my wife is just shutting out the topic of Brexit and what it means to me altogether.
I feel bereaved and similar to people who have lost someone close to them people around me just skirt the topic. When I need some words of support I receive silence. When I need a shoulder to cry on people turn away and pretend to be busy. I have not much hope that this will change until Brexit Day next year.
The next 12 months will continue to be a roller coaster of emotions in terms of fears over my future rights. The closer we draw to Brexit Day the sadder I will be to lose something that I truly believed in - the feeling of being part of a European community.
For the EU and the UK the issue of citizens' rights is sorted. They've marked all issues as green, ready to go, rubber-stamped, agreed. All formulated in references to some EU directives, written in a legal language I don't understand. I still have so many questions and there is still so much to be clarified. 18 months ago I had hope, I was vocal, fighting for what I believed would be the right way of resolving my citizens' rights. This hope has faded. I am still filled with energy but it is driven by disappointment, by feeling failed by those who are meant to protect us, the UK and EU.
Until 22:59 hours on March 29th, 2019 I will fight for what is right. Right not just for me, but for every single person like me, who came to the UK to make this beautiful country our home.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 17 years:
Since Brexit vote I wish I had chosen another country to live. If only I knew....
I arrived in the UK over 17 years ago. I had graduated as a lawyer and decided to do continue my studies abroad, and chosen, obviously, the UK.
I lived in England for about 4 years and the rest in Scotland. Feel in love with the Scottish people and the beautiful landscape and decided this was my country now. My life was here, my friends, my love for the mountains, climbing, the outdoors. My son was born here. My 'wee' boy who like his mum enjoys the amazing outdoors experience that Scotland can provide. He's now at primary school. He has lotando friends and loves his school.
I have completed 2 Masters degree courses in the UK and have been working since then, as a Senior Environmental Consultant. I pay all taxes as every British citizen does. I'm Italian and Brazilian (dual nationality).
This was my home, my life. I wanted to be here, I felt I was wanted here.
Since Brexit I feel this country is going the wrong way. I don't like thinking I am part of a country so xenophobic.
Although Scotland voted majority remain, which makes me feel a bit less disappointed, it still has to do whatever May says. Unfortunately.
I would never consider moving away to other country. But now I do.
I haven't done anything on my 'immigrant status' yet as I'm planning to leave. It's a bit revolting really. Brexit is stealing from future generations their freedom to travel around Europe, the freedom I had.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 28 years:
I'm Belgian and came to London to follow my boyfriend in 1990 aged 26, I'm now 54 and have lived in the UK longer than I have in Belgium. I've worked throughout, made friends, studied part time whilst working and obtained my 1st and Master degrees here. I have no idea what life is like in my birth country anymore, my home is here.
I've built a career and am proud of what I've achieved. I've worked hard, saved hard and paid my dues by looking after my pension making additional contributions; paying into the NHS more than I've taken out. I've a mortgage that I am overpaying to be financially more secure.
I volunteer and donate to many charities. I'm passionate about the environment and do all I can to look after and preserve it. I love this country, its beauty and traditions with all its variety. My grasp of the English language is as good as (if not better than) that of the average Brit.
I believe most people would agree that on the whole this makes me a good citizen and a positive contributor to British society
Yet overnight (because of a majority' vote to leave the EU in a poll no-one really understood the implications and repercussions of) I've become a persona non grata. For the first time in my life I've been on the receiving end of nasty xenophobic insults and pointedly felt what discrimination means.
And if I accept the settled status' I become a second class citizen, with no guarantees of acquired rights. I've acquired permanent residency status but that means nothing much in the future Britain out of the EU. I'm applying for British Citizenship but both processes are protracted, bureaucratic, complex, time-consuming and very stressful as you read stories of people being denied the right to stay even when, like me, there is overwhelming evidence they are bona fide long term residents.
The overwhelming feeling is that of betrayal, rejection and injustice for what, I don't know!
Someone in Authority making life changing decisions on my behalf, please tell me: what have we done wrong to be treated so badly?
Anonymous, in the UK for more years than I care to remember:
I have very mixed feelings about it all......... I'm very glad the uncertainty is finally at an end and I can continue my life in the country I've called home for the last 35 years.
I'm very sad that the British seem to have completely forgotten the spirit in which the EU was established all those years ago - how can a people that did so much to help build (or, for us oldies, perhaps that should be "re-build" ) the unique place that is Europe, suddenly turn it's back on all that has been achieved ?
Oh Britain, what have you done.........
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Nicholas, in the UK for 47 years:
I have lived and worked in Britain for 47yrs, am married to an English woman and am now retired with 2 grandchildren. I am Greek, European and have always felt like I belong in Britain. Came to London to study and when I married decided to make my home here and had a typewritten letter from the HO granting me ILR. Then neither Greece or U.K. were in the EU but when we joined, I enjoyed living my life in united Europe and my kids grew up feeling European, taking it for granted. I never bothered to get citizenship.
Then in June 2016 my life was turned upside down. I suddenly felt that I was the foreigner that I didn't quite belong here in the town where I now live. People around me became very openly anti European. I began to worry about what would happen. Would my pension that I'd paid into for years be safe. Would they not let me back into England when I went on holiday. People that have known me for years said, you'll be OK you've been here for years. But, I was to discover that whether you'd been here for 5yrs or 50yrs you had to get the dreaded PR. So, at 71yrs old maybe I am the oldest person to apply for citizenship, but thought I should apply to safeguard my future.
Tomorrow, after the most unbelievable experience with the inhuman HO trying to prove that I am a permanent resident here and nearly ¬£2000 worse off, I officially become a British Citizen. How do I feel? Strange, very sad for the 3 million of us that have had to go through this experience, and very worried about the future of Britain without the EU. One things for sure those 3million' have helped me get through it.
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Gisela, in the UK for 43 years:
I was 20 when I left my home town Darmstadt in Germany and went to live and work in Geneva in order to improve my French. After a short return to Germany, Stuttgart, I moved then to Athens, Greece, lived and worked there for several years - mornings in an office and afternoons teaching children German. Only by teaching my mother tongue did I realise what a lovely language it is and I benefited by learning Greek at the same time. I felt straight away at home basking in the warmth of the Greek peoples and the ancient surroundings.
They took me to their hearts as I did them. On returning to Germany again, Frankfurt aM, I met my English husband. Again I felt totally at ease in his presence. After having worked many years at the airport there he spoke fluent German and understood the local vocabulary and dialect. We clicked at once and are still together 45 years later.
His workplace was closed down and we decided it was time for him after many years abroad to go home again. I did not mind at all believing that like a sparrow wherever there are crumbs for food I will be happy. He bought a home near Gatwick airport, his new workplace and we settled with our two little boys, one 4 years and the other 3 months old. I met other German ladies here and we had a nice little German circle doing things German, like coffee and cake afternoons for example. In the meantime they slowly went to heaven one by one. Because one never knows if things will turn out right and mothers usually are the main carers for the children we decided while still in Germany that our boys should take on my German nationality. There were no reasons whatsoever to believe that this decision would one day work against us. Our bilingual boys grew up here, went to school and university and then went to experience life and work in Germany where they still are and now have their own families..
As they have lived more than 2 years out of the UK I understand that they would not be allowed to reside in Britain again - ie to care for us in old age. This worries us enormously and breaks our hearts. Since the referendum I experience much more EU antagonism and some previous English friends distance themselves which is most hurtful.
I don't know who is friend or foe. I think it is scandalous that the manipulated EU referendum is still considered the will of the people even though only 37% of the electorate voted for it on very skimpy and partly incorrect information. I was not even allowed to vote on something which will affect my life so profoundly. I feel a second referendum will be needed when all facts are known to the public. I feel totally European, speak several languages and enjoy the mosaic of European cultures. Gisela Greenaway
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Elena, in the UK for 34 months:
The day the result of the Brexit referendum was announced, I was celebrating the successful completion of my teacher training at Hull University. My partner and I joined the other students and friends for some celebratory drinks. The atmosphere was not very cheerful and we inevitably ended up discussing the implications of Brexit for the teaching and learning of Modern Foreign Languages in the UK.
Ironically, I thought I had finally found some stability as my British partner and I decided to move to the UK and I was looking forward to the prospect of a career in education. However, the reality is very different now that Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty for EU nationals in the UK. Brexit has meant reconsidering all options and possibilities for my partner and I in terms of jobs and mobility across Europe. He has lost his right to freedom of movement across the EU and I face the possibility that my settled status' application could be rejected.
Apart from the actual problems, Brexit also affects me psychologically and emotionally. Surprise, disappointment, shock, frustration and anger are just some the feelings I have been experiencing. I am glad I stumbled across the 3million and became a member last week. It means a lot to be represented in a country where I don't have the right to vote at the national elections and therefore politicians have no incentive to represent me.
Not only shouldn't Brexit be something that is done to me, but it should also be something I can influence and shape. This is why I am writing this brief account and I thank the 3million for sharing it.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 55 years
My fear that the UK would take a step backwards as far as equality, tolerance and support of citizens rights was confirmed by the effects of Brexit.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 18 years
Sometimes I pretend it's not happening, other times I am terrified and unable to think ahead further than March next year. Is it worth doing up the garden? Does it make sense to buy a car? What happens when we need to get a re-mortgage next winter? Do I plan work ahead for 2019? Will I still be here?
And I turn in circles. Alone. With no answers.
Sometimes I feel angry as well. Why will I need to apply for permission to stay in a country where I suddenly feel unwelcome? Apply for a status I have always taken for granted, but not only that: I will end up with less rights. Is that fair?
My whole working life I have lived in the UK, all my qualifications are from here. I would start from zero if I went back to Germany. Leaving is a scary thought. Staying is painful. I used to be so proud to live here. Part of both countries, but most of all European. Brexit has stolen my identity and has taken away my belief in common sense, fairness and security.
And what will happen to my two amazing daughters? They are German and British. Unfortunately we, their parents, have already let them down and divorced. They are settled at school, have friends. Their dad in British and has in the past opposed us leaving the UK. Which law is more important: family or immigration? So I end with a question. Questions are all I have. No answers.
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Tanja, in the UK for 11 years in total:
As an active anti-Brexit campaigner as well as an EU citizen, and sometimes voice of EU citizens, I see developments from many different angles, not just my own immediate perspective. In light of that fact, coming closer to Brexit day means three things in particular for me:
First and foremost, it means that the number of messages I am getting from fellow EU citizens who tell me that they can no longer cope; who tell me that they do not know what to do anymore; who tell me that they are lost and feel devastated; has increased significantly. This has a lot to do with the UK government's constant spin that our rights are now secure, when the exact opposite is true. I too struggle with this reality, I have to say. While I was always certain the EU referendum vote would return a leave result, never in a million years did I expect that millions of lives would become collateral do not forget that this also includes our British friends who made their homes in continental Europe all of our lives worth basically nothing. It is beyond shameful.
Secondly, and on a more personal level, coming closer to Brexit day has had another immediate impact: after a long period of relative calm it has meant a significant increase in insults and abuse. Brexiters are rattled with all the revelations about Cambridge Analytica etc, so we are very much back to the behaviour of pre-EU referendum days. I have genuinely seen everything now that there is to see suffice it to say it is not pretty. The fact that I am only one of many, many more who see this makes it worse. This is not the UK I fell in love with. But here is the thing: I will not give up on the UK I fell in love with. It's that simple.
Finally, I want to be honest about what I struggle with the most: the apathy we see all around us. Yes, there are great champions of our cause and I thank them and love them all for it. But it is a demonstrable fact that a majority of Britons simply do not care about what is happening to us. I think this is largely the result of embarrassment rather than anything else. But that does not change the fact that it translates into apathy in the end. The number of fellow EU citizens who tell me about this exact same experience all the time makes it even more heart-breaking because I really have no answer for them given I feel exactly the same. All we get is you will be fine'. Well, we won't be: we will all lose rights. The willingness of many, many people to either just talk that away or ignore it is truly sobering. I am your colleague, your neighbour, your friend. We all are. Part of the fabric that makes this country. Or so I thought.
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Paolo, in the UK for 25 years:
I arrived in the UK in 1993 with only one dream, to work hard and learn a new language. It was hard, lonely and pretty difficult considering I didn't know anyone and I didn't speak the language. However, little by little, I grew more confident, got a job, learned how to communicate, open a bank account and start paying taxes. I remember my first job at a cafe bar in Bond Street, London. I was wearing my cousin shoes, too big for me but they were the best one I had. Also, his shirt was way too large for me but I didn't have any money for a better one. Then I got a job in a 5-star Hotel and in 5 years I went from a basic porter position to Manager in charge of 500 staff, great opportunity. I then got to work at two of the biggest venues in London, working on some of the most celebrated events in the capital. meeting celebrities, government heads and famous people. Met with a wonderful Welsh woman and had two beautiful girls, both born on front of the Big Ben in London.
Now I have my own company, giving work to hundreds of people and helping the economy moving forward. All this time, I worked hard, played by the rules, made friends, set up home and a family and I was looking forward to get out of this recession started in 2007 which has crippled the nation since. Then, in a warm evening in June 2016, I had to watch in horror the results of a referendum that no one wanted. A referendum that I couldn't vote, even though I was living in this country for more than 23 years and it was directly affecting me and my family. A referendum made with haste and disinformation with tragic consequences for everyone.
The incredible thing was that members of the Commonwealth were able to vote on this, but European citizens residing in the UK for more than 10 years were not. Sadly, this incredible act of ignorance and selfishness has caused irreparable political and emotional damage that will remain in the conscience of this country well beyond our generation. Now after nearly two long years of talks, of accuses of any kind, of unwanted and gratuitous efforts to isolate the country even further, we are on the brink of closing our ties with Europe.
The project that was the brainchild of one of the most iconic figures in British History, Winston Churchill, ultimately to keep us safe, unite and stronger together. When I arrived here in 1993, I wouldn't have dreamed that a founding nation of Europe could leave the EU without asking the right questions or think it through properly. I wouldn't had stayed if that was on the cards and I definitely wouldn't have spent years of hard work and taxes in a project that I do not believe. I am a European citizen and I'm proud of it.
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Anyes, in the UK since 1989:
Love brought me to this country in 1989 and I have been happily married to my British husband since 1990. We have two children who have, fortunately, benefited from a dual nationality, which has, so far, not been questioned by the British government, unlike my own status.
I am outraged to note that some British citizens think that it is suddenly acceptable to impose on us a settled status' application which, by the way, includes a systematic criminality check and a test of lawful residence. I am horrified to see that some British citizens think that it is suddenly acceptable to control us, register us and discriminate against us! It painfully reminds me of more sombre times of our history where people were singled out with a yellow star just because of the group they belonged to! Would the British citizens, who have always been opposed to any form of identity control, accept for themselves what their fellow European citizens, living and working in the UK, have to go through for the only purpose of having the right to remain in the UK?
I have also, except for a handful of them, been very surprised and disappointed by the indifference and apathy of people around me. I feel betrayed and still cannot believe that people haven't reacted to all the lies and deceptions coming out day after day after this referendum. And my feelings are not going away, I am fighting this Brexit. I met my local MP, I am taking actively part in our local pro-remain group Hope for Europe', linked to European Movement and I participate to as many action days and demonstrations as I can to make my voice heard because I am worth as much as a British citizen, because I have as many rights as a British citizen and because all those values are at stake for me and generations to come.
We had decided, before the referendum result, to return to France. The Brexit deadline puts now an extra pressure on me and my family, here and on the other side of the Channel, to make our exit as positive as possible. And despite having asked at every level of the institutions here and in Europe, nobody has managed yet to guarantee that our rights will be guaranteed after the 29th March 2019. I do not recognise the country I came in 28 years ago. The referendum has hurt, bruised and terribly divided this nation which seems irreconcilable and aims in the wrong direction.
Let's not forget that the European Union is not only about money and trade. The European Union has also the purpose to keep us united, tolerant, free to travel and sharing the same social and cultural values and interests. This is why I am not giving up! Staying united in Europe is still an option if we believe in it!
Meike, in the UK for 26 years:
My name is Meike and I am German. I met my English partner in 1988 on holiday and moved to the UK in 1992 to be with him. I've had a good life in the UK and have built a career in contract and programme management in the charity sector, healthcare, and currently in the public sector. I've been able to buy a house and maintain a wide circle of friends, both English and from all over the world. I've always loved the multicultural atmosphere while working on London for many years, and the open-mindedness with which English people seemed to embrace new ideas and influences.
All this changed significantly throughout the toxic and misleading Brexit campaign. When I read about EU immigration to the UK, I cannot recognise myself. The only EU immigrants portrayed in the media seem to be unskilled workers bringing down wages, criminal gangs, or benefit scroungers. I've never met any of these stereotypes, only hardworking, law-abiding fellow European citizens taking advantage of their right to free movement. We have demonstrably contributed positively to this country, as did English citizens settling all over Europe, but this is probably too boring for the mainstream media.
I must admit that I didn't take the referendum too seriously. I honestly didn't believe that the Leave campaign could possibly win, but I underestimated how many people lapped up the lies dished up to them.
Over the last 2 years, the list of people I know, including family, friends and colleagues who voted for Brexit has grown and I find it impossible to maintain relationships with these people. They appear to be completely unaware that Brexit will have any impact on me and like the useless email updates from the home office, tell me that everything will be fine. So many times former friends have said to me there are too many immigrants in this country, but we don't mean you by this or the country has deteriorated since we joined the EU, but then cannot explain how this is in any way related to the EU. Everyone who has actually admitted to me that they voted for Brexit is unable to explain their choice without saying something utterly racist or factually wrong.
My partner and I have both been so depressed over losing friends and some of his family over this. We have talked a lot about moving to Germany, but his German is not very good, and I have never worked in Germany and have spent more of my life here than there. I won't stand a very good chance of finding a job, he even less, and we'd be starting from scratch in our 40s and 50s. And of course, soon he will be no longer a European citizen, completely against his choice.
I had no vote in the referendum, I have no voice apart from writing this, and I'm crying while doing it. I feel trapped and unwelcome in a country that I used to call home.
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Sophie, in the UK for 30 years:
I am originally from the north of France and growing up listening to English music my dream was to move to London. By the age of 20 I packed my bag and finally moved ,i lived in every London borough from Chelsea to Camden via Brixton. I studied "theatre costume design " at London college of Fashion and went on to work for The Lion King, The Shakespeare Globe... and for the last 15 years I Have been working for The London Fashion week twice a year shows. I concentrate on the construction of fabulous cat walk out of this world show pieces. My partner of 20 years is a Londoner and I always felt so welcome in this wonderful city of London. After the referendum I was heartbroken and felt very very sad almost unconsolable and felt let down, Why would people vote to remove others rights ?? I even considered going back to France. I t is only now that I feel a bit better . Brexit is an insult and unfair.
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Orit, in the UK for 4.5 years:
I came to the UK with the promise of a better future. By holding an EU citizenship, I felt that I was welcome to live, study, work and grasp the new opportunities that this beautiful country had to offer. Being a Master of Laws student at LSE, I had the privilege to learn, exchange ideas and engage in fascinating discussions with students from all over Europe and the world. I never for a second thought that within a few years time I would no longer feel welcome in the country that I fondly saw as my home.
The vote for Brexit came when I was already the CEO of the Jimmy Wales Foundation for freedom of expression, a non-profit that Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, chose to form and base in the UK. I've been working in collaboration with many UK-based NGOs to campaign for bloggers and social media users who have been persecuted for speaking out online. I found the vote for Brexit insulting not only for EU citizens living in the UK, but also for the future of many young Brits who were ripped at once of their lifetime opportunities across the EU.
I'm now the Co-Founder of WikiTribune, an innovative Wiki-based news website which brings together a community of volunteers with professional journalists in an effort to create a collaborative news space. Our headquarters are based in London and we're currently employing journalists, programmers and staff members, many of whom are talented local Brits. In contradiction to the false propaganda which was spread during the referendum campaign, I didn't take anyone's job - I created jobs. If the rights of the EU citizens in the UK will not be secured in full, many of the vacancies created by them in the UK might be gone with them.
The UK is a thriving democracy filled with brilliant people. I believe that the vote to depart from the EU was a devastating historical mistake that will carry enormous harmful consequences both for the UK and the EU for years to come. I was crushed to learn that I'm no longer regarded as an equal-rights citizen. I worry for my future which I seeded in this country and is no longer certain. I worry for the future of my British friends who will no longer be able to freely study, live and work throughout the EU. I worry for the future of this country as it seems to be carried away in a wave of nationalism and xenophobia.
I came to the UK with the promise of a better future. Now my future is being held hostage in the hands of careless politicians in distant negotiations. The only request I have from those who are now negotiating my future is to allow me and my fellow EU citizens to maintain our rights in the UK, secure our lives in here and allow the seeds that we planted in this country to grow and thrive. Please, let us feel welcome again.
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Anonymous, a British citizen:
I feel a bit of a fraud writing to you, as I am not one of the 3 million EU citizens in the UK, but am a British citizen who will, with deep sorrow, be losing my EU citizenship in 2019. I would like however, to share my thoughts with you and to express my support for your work.
When the referendum result was announced, I was almost surprised by how much I felt deep sense of sadness and a sense that the noble ideals that flow from the EU had been somehow trampled on and shredded, not only by the result but by the tone of the debate, particularly relating to migration. This turned to a sense of horror and shame at the verbal and in some cases, physical attacks on EU citizens in the UK.
I think that the idea that people can choose freely where they live and work and whom they marry is one of the best things about the EU and that it should help us all to encounter each other as individual human beings, recognising each other's humanity and unique spirit, rather than seeing each other in terms of us and them. I do hope that you, and our fellow European brothers and sisters will be comforted by the fact that many British citizens want you to feel welcome here, and are grateful for the contribution that you make to our society in so many ways.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 29 years:
I am writing on behalf of my brother-in-law, who is a British national living in Budapest. He told me on a very recent trip to the UK that he is very concerned about the increasingly authoritarian and xenophobic government in Hungary, and would like to consider moving back to the UK, along with his Hungarian wife of 25 years and his children, now 19 and 17. However, Brexit is so uncertain now it seems unclear how he could ever move back. He might not make the minimum financial threshold. It is especially painful as his mother and all three of his brothers voted Leave. No one wants to see a family divided, but ours is. Brexit has cleaved us in two. Horrible.
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Margret, in the UK for nearly 38 years:
I am scared ... The whole attitude of the powers that be scares me. I have lived here in the UK since 1980 and worked until I became too disabled to work. Now I receive disability benefits. And because of that, not only do I now have to be scared of losing the benefit because many do anyway, but I have the added risk of loosing absolutely everything, because I may have to leave the country. If I had to go back to Germany, where would I live? And what would happen to my 87 year old husband?
I am scared also that the admin of any settled status application will require documents I don't have any more. Too much time has gone, my ex-husband destroyed a lot of papers, etc.
This is all there is: I am scared. And nobody has yet said anything official to make me less scared and reassure me. Things are still in flux and nothing is settled properly and I am still scared
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Jakub, in the UK for 12 years:
I came to UK in 2006. I've never expected anything like Brexit could ever happen. I lost all the hope for any positive outcome of Brexit for EU citizens living in UK and Brits in EU. UK government is obviously on very wring path of destroying the benefits of immigration but EU is not helping either.
The only thing that I don't understand is why people still believe in Brexit? How can you still justify this thing after all the lies that have been exposed? Ther isn't 350 million for NHS, there are no hords of refugees by UK border as UKIP billboard suggested in 2016, Turkey is not joining the EU and UK is leaving single market when it supposed to be like Norway or Switzerland. On the top of all of this we have the recent revelations about Leave campaign breaking the electoral funding law, Cambridge Analytica personal data abuse and the list is just growing.
I really don't like the fact that Brexit and its head figures are pumping up the far right, nationalistic tone, hiding behind the democracy defenders while in fact they destroy everything that is still democratic. I don't think the public is realising the dangers that are coming out of this political ideology. The UK's public strength has always been that it is not prone to far right or far left ideas but unfortunately this balance is heavily shaken now.
I hear a lot of jokes from British colleagues about EU immigrants faith but I don't find them funny.
My enthusiasm towards work and life in UK has definitely diminished and I feel most people (natives) are actually happy about that. This country has changed and it is very unpredictable. However despite all of this I would still support second referendum to call this whole thing off..
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Anonymous, in the UK for 12 years:
For me, Brexit revealed that the English voters around me had no clue at all about how the European Union works, how it was involved in decisions that impacted their lives. It meant an electoral campaign based on disinformation and slogans instead of rational facts.
To me, Brexit means it is possible and allowed to play on people fears in order to get their votes. And then to treat millions of people as if their lives, their work, their contributions to the country they are living in as not valuable, not valued, not worth considering. It means I might not be allowed to remain in the country I am living. I might have my rights reduced as if I was a second class citizens. And worse of all, my children who are born in the UK might not be able to live or study in the country they feel is theirs. Brexit means uncertainty, disdain, xenophobia, exclusion, decline, anxiety.
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Anonymous, in the UK for 19 years:
I never really questioned my identity until Brexit. Neither I asked myself if I was Italian or British or European. I just was. The referendum result has been like the passing of a close relative, and I am still mourning. I am no longer one of the gang', the exotic neighbour who speaks funny or the friendly customer that exchanges pleasantries at the till.
The postman who stops talking as soon as he realises I am not British, the bully who beat my child up last year and reminds him now that he will soon need to show his papers' to walk around the school, the shopkeepers who suddenly look impatient when I ask for help, even the employer who could not explain why my perfect-for-the-post application was turned down, they are all walking around with the same certainties and the same feelings of self-entitlement as before. I do not.
One year till Brexit I feel lost and vulnerable, yet I sit still. I have become a silent observer but whilst I am mindful of the challenges ahead I refuse to let my life in the UK be governed by a sell-by date. I have planted new bulbs in the garden, applied for a promotion and planned the next holiday. Better, I refuse to engage in conversations about Brexit: the rhetorical stances of both sides are now truly boring me. Even the most pro-European Brits that have tried to show me solidarity, cannot see how much it hurts and why. Brexit has wiped off the passionate curiosity and trust I had in people and institutions alike. For me, the year ahead will not be about politics, the economy, the paradoxes of Brexit and the big titles on newspaper. Neither it will be about fretting on lack of funding to schools and the NHS or how best to support the local community.
The year ahead could make me say goodbye to my neighbours and friends; it could force me sell the house I redecorated with love and dedication - or it could just offer some respite to this sense of helplessness and isolation that I cannot shift, for all I know. The reality is that it does not matter anymore. To me, whichever status we are granted, any moment from now could be the one in which self-preservation will have to take priority over everything else.
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Elena, in the UK for 13 years:
Some days I wake up and wish this was all a bad dream. If Brexit happens, and I am still hopeful it doesn't, this country and the lives of 3 million citizens, as well as those of the British living in the rest of Europe, will never be the same. It is a frightening thought, because I chose to settle in England as I deeply loved it.
I left Italy 20 years ago. I lived in Canada, then Ireland, then the UK since 2005. A few years ago, I toyed with the idea of getting British citizenship, but ironically ended up taking it at the worst possible time: when I needed it to secure my status here. It was a Kafkaesque process which left me stressed and humiliated, as for the first time I was made to feel like the other. I will never forget the time when I brought all my documents for citizenship to the National Checking Service and heard the assistant ring the Home Office and say, We have got another one here, sounding almost exasperated. I was then sent back home and asked to provide additional evidence (another three kilos after the 5 to obtain Permanent Residency). When returned to that office a week after, they told me, Sorry for the other day, then, whispering, We know you are one of the good ones, as if these words would make me feel any better. How could they? How do they tell the good ones from the bad ones? It is true that there are good and bad citizens, but I knew that the meaning of these words and what was uttered afterwards meant something totally different. I left that office wondering whether had been kidding myself for years about being an integral part of this country. I felt hurt and in mourning, as if someone had died or perhaps something had died within me.
This experience, however, was an eye-opener for me as I noticed I was not alone in this journey. My fellow EU citizens, like me, had had no voice in this Referendum and this made me realise how my voice and that of many others could be heard if collected in a book. This is how the idea of the book In Limbo started, from the desire to put our voices together. It has now become a powerful tool in our battle to inform the wider public of our plight.
Exactly a year after, like many others, I still feel utterly betrayed, particularly after the latest news on our agreement, but I also know that giving my time to the cause of citizens' rights is totally worth it. It keeps me sane, it gives me a sense of purpose and connects me with like-minded people amongst which many British ones. If we all did our part, I am hopeful that the tide could still be turned.
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Anonymous, in the UK for Decades:
Tomorrow it will be exactly one year before Brexit. On 29th March 2019 an unprecedented era in European history will come to an end and a new, uncertain future will begin for all of us, British and non-British Europeans alike.
With my British husband and our children, I, a non-British EU national, built my entire adult life on the opportunities and presuppositions afforded by our EU membership: living, learning and working in different EU countries, owning property, having access to health care, contributing to pensions and feeling accepted and integrated.
The referendum in June 2016 and the subsequent shameful treatment of EU citizens like us by the U.K. government's chosen Brexit negotiation tactics changed everything. My legally acquired citizens' rights have been turned into bargaining chips and will be removed in the near future. Having contributed for decades in more than just economic ways to Britain, I have found myself pushed into a limbo status about my future here because my most recent stay has not been considered lengthy and economically lucrative enough. My genuine legal concerns have been sweet-talked but ignored by politicians and other leaders. The great British public which includes most of my acquaintances, friends and even UK family remain silent about the injustices perpetrated by the Home Office and others. Whilst Britain keeps calm and carries on the message to me and many others is clear: we don't want ordinary (non-rich) foreigners here any more and there is therefore clearly no desire to honour the promises made in the Leave campaign about EU Citizens' Rights and our future in the U.K. post Brexit. We, like many before us, will soon be subject to the U.K.s hostile immigration environment. My marriage of over three decades to a British national is irrelevant in the context of my immigration status.
Current Brexit decisions are penalising our reasonable life choices retrospectively. I no longer feel welcome in this Brexit Britain that silently betrays the values it used to hold so dear. I sincerely wish you well, dear Brits. You are a great nation whose place should remain as an equal partner at the heart of Europe. But you chose differently and must go into this future on your own. Sadly, you keep dreaming about a glorious return to the empire status you once obtained without realising that the world has moved on.
Nevertheless and against all the odds I continue to hope you will (re)consider very seriously your chosen Brexit path before it's too late. In the end it will not just affect people like me and my family. You and your children will suffer the consequences, too.
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Maurizio, in the UK since 2005:
I chose to live and work (since I have always worked) in this country in 2005, after being born and raised in Italy, after having lived and worked in China, Hong Kong, the United States, and Australia. I chose to live here because I always thought that the UK was different, more open, more tolerant, and yes, closer to home, since the UK is historically part of Europe. The Brexit referendum's outcome has changed everything. In the aftermath, I felt a sense of betrayal, a strong feeling of uncertainty, even anxiety, and the raising awareness of not being welcome here. It was exactly a year ago that my 200-page application for Permanent residence was rejected. I haven't applied again. And today, one year till Brexit .....what does it mean for me? An even stronger sense of uncertainty, and the saddening certainty that my rights, which are ultimately human rights (civil, political and socio-economic rights), have been infringed, neglected, and trampled on.
Anonymous, in the UK for 20 years:
I am Austrian and European, I studied in Italy, I ran my own business in Greece,
I have lived and worked in the UK for 20 years.
My husband is British, we have a daughter, who is 13 and has dual citizenship.
She now also has a brand new Austrian passport, - just in case.
My husband runs his own business. He obtained Estonian e-residency a week ago, - just in case.
Since the referendum, we no longer have much contact with my husband's family.
We are Pro Europe', his father and sister voted for Brexit.
We used to love getting together to discuss politics and life in general, we didn't agree then, but it didn't matter, -now, it's personal.
When I meet new people, the first thing I wonder now, is how they voted in the referendum, not who they are or what they do in life. - I can't help it
European friends have left. They no longer feel welcome here, they can easily find jobs elsewhere.
-Friendships, talent, culture lost.
I used to do business with people from continental Europe.
They no longer want to book with a British company, they want new assurances. - just in case.
-One small business less.
I would like to stay in the UK, my home is here, my daughter was born here, she feels British. I brought her up to be bilingual, but her school no longer teaches German, -so no more German GCSEs. -One qualification less.
I feel very sad about Brexit, but no one wants to talk about it anymore.
Even those, who may have cared at first, have got bored of discussing it, have got tired of standing up with us.
-I still find it difficult not to mention it.
I was really happy here, I always thought the UK was brilliant, there was so much talent, energy, modern thinking, it was quite breathtaking.
Now this country is drowning in nostalgia, it has become backward looking, now all we are left with, is vintage'.
It's a disaster.
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Malgorzata, in the UK for 13 years:
It's 15 minutes till midnight. I just found this email and I hope I will make just in time. What Brexit means to me? Oh,Gosh it is like looking the innocence, stop being naive. I think that Brexit Referendum was like an eye opening experience. I am like still in state of shock. I dont know what to do. And I should do something and fast. The amount of paperwork to go through to apply for residency or citizenship is huge. Somehow I cant believe that things will be made simpler. I was travelling by taxi this morning and the driver was explaining to me that Brexit voice wasnt about me only about refugees from Africa or Asia. If I have been here for 13n years and work and pay taxes, he doesnt have anything against me. So, whom am I? Am I a good migrant?
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Ilse, in the UK on and off for most of my adult life:
This place has always been part of who I am - my mother is English, and I've been visiting all my life even before coming to live here. If people remark that I'm half British and half Danish, my answer is always: I'm not half, I'm double."
I found the referendum debate ugly and divisive, but wasn't as surprised by the result as many others. In Denmark there have been several referendums on EU integration with various results, though none as foolhardy as the one David Cameron called. A referendum like that allows people to project their country's own failings and problems on to foreigners, and that's what happened in the UK.
What did change was the way citizens from other EU countries were talked about, and it felt like a personal rejection. The tone has mostly been one of: You're here because you're useful, and we'll let you stay if you're one of the good immigrants. I thought at least my right to be here wasn't in question - I felt like an informed outsider, almost British. Suddenly it was painfully obvious that those in power saw me as a means to an end: a bargaining chip, an economic piece to be moved around a Monopoly board.
I decided to act rather than live with the uncertainty, and after reams of paperwork I succeeded in becoming a UK citizen. My new right to vote in national elections still feels unfamiliar, but I'm pleased and relieved. I do feel strongly that people shouldn't have to apply for citizenship to be treated decently, and that's what drives my activism with the3million.
From day to day, Brexit seems like a pointless project full of crushing detail that no one having to carry it out really believes in - certainly not Theresa May, or her civil servants. This is where I think we, EU citizens in the UK and British abroad, have an advantage: we firmly believe that we should not be punished as a group for this decision, because people should come before politics. We believe that we shouldn't have to choose - that we can belong in two places, that we can be double and not half.
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Anja, in the UK for 11 years and 7 months:
I am a German National and I live in the UK since Aug 2006. My partner is British citizen with Italien parents.
My daughters (both German too) came to the UK in 2009 and 2013.
Now that it's only 1 year until the UK will leave formally the EU I am still worried about our future lives post Brexit. In the current draft withdrawal agreement some rights for EU citizens in UK and Brits in EU are showing as agreed. But obviously they are not final because as they always say Nothing is agreed until everything has been agreed.
I am glad that I joined the3million Group and I am very grateful for all their hard work.
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Aratxu, in the UK for 28 years:
I am grieving
Because my rights will be removed just like that, I didn't have a vote and nobody is listening to me. I will have to apply for a settled status' that will not guarantee anything if there is no deal.
I am grieving
Because those who are meant to protect me in Brussels have also let me down. Negotiations on citizens' rights should have been prioritised and ringfenced. Article 50 should include a clause securing citizens' rights so this never happens again.
I am grieving
Because I have given you my youth and the best years of my life. You didn't pay for my education, I am healthy and when I retire I am planning to leave so you won't have to pay for my care when I am elderly. And still, you say I am a burden to the society and accuse me of taking advantage of your generosity.
I am grieving
Because yesterday you said that my accent was exotic and sexy, but today it only annoys you.
I am grieving
Because I used to be chatty and friendly, but now I am quiet and apprehensive because I don't know who may be listening.
I am grieving
Because more and more friends are talking about going away, even my British friends, and I will miss them.
I am grieving
Because the friends that are staying want to take elocution classes, hide our accent to protect ourselves.
I am grieving
Because I used to be just one more and now I am one of them.
I am grieving
Because at 54 I am too old to start from zero in another country and I feel stuck here with the xenophobes.
I am grieving
Because democracy is being desecrated and very few people seem to care.
I am grieving
Because I am losing faith that Brexit can be stopped.
I am grieving
Because I don't recognise the country I love.
I am just grieving.
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To be continued...🔷
PS: - Please become a member of the3million today. - While the campaign intensifies, we must continue to fight for our rights, alongside our friends in British in Europe. If you can donate, please continue to do so so that our team of full time volunteers can be supported to continue this crucial work.