Brexiters told us that Brexit meant freedom. One month on... how free do Britons actually feel now?


First published in February 2021.


January 1 was the first day that new (supposedly more free and therefore, more fulfilling) travel and trade rules went into effect for Britain in relation to the European Union. It finally happened… more than four years after Britain voted to leave the EU.

Britain, Brexiter politicians tell us, is finally free. Is it?

All that talk of freedom doesn’t obscure the reality of what January 1, 2021 meant:

  • It’s the end of free movement of people between Britain and the EU;
  • If you’re British and want to take your dog on holiday to mainland Europe, expect new restrictions (and new requirements);
  • If you’re British and want to get a job somewhere in mainland Europe, expect new restrictions (and new requirements);
  • If you’re a British student, don’t even think of the Erasmus exchange programme. Britain has withdrawn from it;
  • If you’re in the British service sector (the bulk of the country’s economy) prepare for months of uncertainty on how (or even if) legal, financial and consulting services can be offered to mainland Europe.

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he coined the term “Newspeak” for the language used by Big Brother’s true believers. Orwell said the term was meant to indicate the new language’s singular purpose: words were “designed to diminish the range of thought”. So, Newspeak worked by eliminating or altering certain words; substituting one word for another and creating new words for specific political purposes.

In Brexit Newspeak, I suppose, it is entirely possible to call the end of free movement of people (and animals) between Britain and Europe “freedom”. We now have the freedom to stay put! 



Further Reading:

  • 1984, by George Orwell | William Collins


Rashmee Roshan Lall, Journalist, World affairs columnist.