I don’t really know what to do now. All of my plans for the future kind of depended on me having the status of ‘European Citizen’. But in around two years, I’ll lose that status. It shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m not convinced that my British citizenship will be enough. Unlike many of the people who voted for the UK to leave the EU, I use the rights that Europe has given me every single day; half of my family does. We’re spread out across Ireland, Belgium, Spain and Greece.
What on earth happens now? Are we supposed to trust that Boris Johnson will diplomatically negotiate a departure from the EU that safeguards the rights of British abroad and Europeans in the UK?
I know one thing: I don’t want to be English right now. The isolationist nationalism and closed-mindedness that drove the UK to Brexit sits completely opposed to the inclusive, welcoming, outward-looking and positive idea of what I want my country to be in the 21st century.
I guess I can join what will become a generation of dual-nationals, with an attempt at acquiring Belgian citizenship, but nothing is stable now. On a personal level, in two years time, will I be able to work in the city I have made home? Should I hold off on plans to buy an apartment with my partner? Should I make contingency plans in case I’m forced back to the UK?
The campaigns on both sides of European Referendum failed absolutely to answer any questions about what will happen now. I’m dismayed, but not surprised, that so many people seem to have no clue what they were voting about. I eventually got fed up with the pointless throwing of fake stats at each other and stopped listening to the BBC news in the morning.
I can’t help but compare it to the Scottish Referendum, which wasn’t perfect, but did engage people up and down the country in what was happening. The Indyref debate brought the country together to debate the future for Scotland. Brexit lined up the country on opposite sides and had them throw stones at each other.
I want to come from a country that has ideas for its future; a country that knows what sovereignty is and knows how to share and play nice; a country that says, ‘if you make your home here, take part in society, then you are part of us’; a country that learns from the best of the world and gives back too.
The EU has never been just statistics on migrant flows or net contributions to me. It is a project that secured peace on a continent that took the globe into world war twice; it is a project that makes so many things possible and brings together people who would otherwise be divided; it is a project: projects don’t stop, they are processes that everyone has to involve themselves in and steer.
This post is incoherent, but I don’t know what comes next or, really, what just happened. I just know that the future that the UK could have had is gone. Why?