Brexit: you are no longer welcome 🇬🇧
By Pierre Scordia
I have lived in Great Britain for over 10 years, fully contributing to the tax system of this great country I have grown to love since I studied here in the 1990s. Now it appears that my fundamental rights as a European resident are under threat and could be withdrawn at any time from 2019 in the name of the will of the British people. Two weeks ago I learned with great disappointment that the House of Commons had just refused to guarantee the rights of residence to European Union nationals settled in the United Kingdom.
Incomprehension overwhelms me. I see the great tragedies of European history passing before my eyes: the expulsion of the Jews from England, Moriscos from Spain, Huguenots from France, Greeks from Ionia, Germans from the Volga region, Tatars from Crimea, Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia, and Europeans (Pieds-Noirs) from the southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Ultimately, a status, a nationality, a position of employment does not protect the individual from the democratic “Will of the People”, the current favourite chorus of the nationalist, xenophobic tabloids of this new, barely recognizable England.
I have learned to speak English, I have never taken advantage of the generous benefits provided here, I rarely go to the doctor, I pay my taxes each year, I respect and admire the institutions of this nation, I’ve never been a fundamentalist nor a fraudster, I have fully embraced British values. Being French, I have never felt the need to apply for residency or citizenship. Having dual nationality, holding passports from Canada and France were quite sufficient for me. In 2015 I chose to take a sabbatical year in Spain; this year of absence will now jeopardize my residency application even though I have been a teaching fellow at University College London for 11 years.
I of course realise that, along with three million other Europeans, I represent a bargaining chip in the approaching negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. In theory, I understand this, because Britain now finds herself in a very difficult political position on the world chessboard. Nevertheless the psychological damage is done. My situation has become precarious and for the first time, I feel the scope of anti-immigration speeches. No one is safe from population cleansing, whether violent or not. I no longer feel at home. Is my best option to return to France, to reside amongst my “own people”?
England, this great merchant nation that invented parliamentary democracy, has been taken hostage by a virulent press and a small clique of arrogant and nostalgic politicians, deluded by past grandeur. Behind her humble appearance, Theresa May is a formidable lady, prepared to sacrifice the interests of her people for the sake of her own political ambitions. Sadly, the same goes for the eurosceptic opposition leader, the pro-Hamas Jeremy Corbyn.
Fortunately, there is an upper house in Parliament, the Lords, the unelected representatives, future “enemies of the nation” according to the Daily Mail. These Lords have the freedom to make their decisions in good conscience since they do not have to face the popular vote nor party discipline. I find myself drawing the following conclusion: the Lords, champions of social inequality, have become the only remaining politicians of integrity, concerned about the economic and political future of their country and willing to guarantee the rights of every United Kingdom resident. How very ironic!
FΩRMIdea London, 4th March 2017. Published in French in the Huffington Post.