On the EU Referendum – from an EU Citizen
I never thought I would write about politics. If I’m honest, I have never spent a huge amount of time concerning myself with it. I would probably fit into a category of people who know the most important bits and glazes over slightly when it comes to the nitty-gritty.
A month before the EU referendum, with a poll card and many more posters and flyers through our letterbox, I am, however, getting a bit anxious.
You see, I’m an EU Citizen. I’m the subject of a lot of discussion at the moment and it’s starting to get to me.
I keep hearing “in theory EU nationals shouldn’t be forced to leave” if we were to leave the EU. “In theory”? “Shouldn’t”?
I have been in the UK for nearly 18 years. I am married. I have always worked. I have a son. I am part of a family. Yet, what many don’t realise, I have no British citizenship. I cannot vote in this referendum. I cannot vote in national elections. And no, being married doesn’t change a thing. As of March this year it costs £1236 to become a British citizen; even after 18 years and being married and always working and having a son and being part of a family.
Right now, I feel a little bit vulnerable and very sad about the amount of friends who can’t wait to “get rid” of all foreigners in this country or “stop them all coming in”. Did those friends feel like that about meeting me? Do they wish I’d never come? Of course, you’ll tell me I don’t fit into the category of the ‘foreign scrounger’ that everyone is talking about, but on paper I am just the same. I’m still just an EU citizen. You’ll tell me I’m different and I “shouldn’t” have anything to worry about. I’m telling you, it doesn’t change a thing. I love this country, a big factor for me has always been its openness towards other nationalities and races. I have seen what racism is in Germany. I have always been so glad that the UK is different. Lately, something is shifting and if it continues, I’m not so sure the UK will ever be the same again.
Obviously, I have been doing a lot of reading and it’s difficult to find credible sources. I realise that people want a choice on who gets to live here. They don’t want people like me to leave, they just don’t want to let anybody in who’s not going to contribute. I understand that. But I don’t know how the UK will be able to be selective about who they let in? It will be a lot harder than they make out, unless of course, they stop everyone from coming. To be selective requires the agreement of other countries still within the EU because of the Brits who live in other EU countries and because of the existing EU citizens that are living here.
So where does that leave me and my family?
If we need a visa to stay and work here, will it expire? Who will give me £1236 to become a national? If I can’t afford it, will I need to leave, leaving my husband and son behind?? When my mum comes to visit, will she be going through immigration and get her visa rejected because she is not a typical tourist but one that has serious ties in this country and likely to overstay her visa? There are so many questions, I could go on forever.
My hope is that maybe this has given a little insight to how some 3 million EU born people and their families may be affected very personally by all the discussion about how much they are wanted in this country without including how much they contribute and how much it could tear their lives apart if the worse was to happen.