It is a long time since I last wrote a personal post. Lately I worked only on health articles and MS. In this regard, recently I created a Facebook page; Flip Out 4 MS, which I invite you to follow and share!
But since the English newspapers (and worldwide news) are not talking about anything other than “Brexit” and additionally I was pushed by the fact that a couple of dear friends are organizing their imminent departure to England, I decided to share with you some thoughts in this regard.
The first thing we need to understand is what the term Brexit means. I found several online sources (found at bottom of page) that help us understand what it is. To make it as simple as possible, it is the referendum on “Britains Exit” to be held June 23 in Great Britain and in which citizens will have the right to choose whether Britain (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland north) will remain within the European Union. It is rather more complicated however, to understand what causes have led to the decision to hold a referendum and what the possible consequences could be. The Brexit name is modeled on the most famous Grexit, which indicated the possibility of a Greek exit from the EU following the strong financial crisis that the Hellenic country has faced for some years now. Despite the many risks associated with the exit of a member country of the euro currency such as Greece, the prospect of a UK exit poses different challenges BUT NOT LESS, considering that it is one of the richest countries and major EU powers in the world. Following the advancement of the Eurosceptic UKIP Nigel Farage, the Conservative leader David Cameron ahead of the election campaign (later also won beyond the most optimistic expectations), promised in 2013 that he would hold a referendum on the exit from the European Union as a new mandate, stressing, therefore, that this may have been key to him winning the election.
Now the time has arrived for him to keep this promise, so the British public, 23 June, will find themselves in front of a board which will recite the following question: “should the UK remain a member of the EU or should it leave the EU?”.
It is now fair to ask why the British public, or at least a fairly significant number of them, want to leave the European Union. First of all to be considered should be the lack of feeling of belonging between the UK and EU, which has always been stressed by not adhering to the Euro currency by Great Britain itself. Beyond the historical considerations “insularity” of the United Kingdom and its difficulty in being part of the Union, the grievances of London stem primarily from excessive (in their view) immigration to the United Kingdom by migrants from “new countries“of the European bloc (i.e. Eastern European) and excessive ties (also seen as lack of sovereignty) that allow the EU to override UK made laws. If Britain came out of the European Union it could therefore have independent decision-making on everything such as immigration issues; although it is not yet clear which model would take the place of the current one. This could include a complete separation or reduced participation on the current model, similar to existing European countries, such as Norway.
Despite the lack of support for the EU, however, it is not as easy for England to leave the European Union. Britain, euro or no euro, it is still an important state in Europe and until now being an active part of the EU has prevented Britain from remaining isolated. The consequences of Brexit would definitely mean a big commercial and economic impact, since it would complicate greatly the ties and exchanges between Britain and the other countries, which are (currently) partners. The pro-Brexit focus, among other things, on the 13 billion pounds that the country every year sends to Brussels and which would be saved; providing that the European Union is obliged to maintain its trade ties with Britain, a big importer of goods and services. Opponents, however, point out how the foreign companies would have less interest in investing in Britain, causing a loss of wealth and even jobs. Another online source (Italian) states that the exit from the EU will reduce exports from the UK and will make imports more expensive: some estimates, such as those of Citigroup estimate a loss in GDP of 4% in the space of only three years. Furthermore, given the extraordinary amount of foreign workers who are in the UK (three million), not only London would face some sort of bureaucratic hell, but also risk making a big favor to cities such as Paris, who might take it’s place of financial capital following the relocation of many workers.
Gwynne Dyer, journalist, writes:
“At the end of World War II, in 1946, the United Kingdom, by Winston Churchill, he called the creation of” a framework under which to live in peace, in safety and in freedom … A kind of United States of Europe “. A decade later, the country refused to enter into this structure when its European neighbors began to actually build it. In 1961 he changed his mind and asked to join the European Economic Community (EEC), an accomplishment at the end in 1973 with the government of Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, only to demand to renegotiate the participation agreements and hold a referendum to decide whether to stay inside or outside the EEC two years later, under the Labour government. Always the same country claims further renegotiation under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher in 1984, and then decided to stay out of the single currency project when the countries of the European Community have signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992”.
In short, the United Kingdom appears to be a really indecisive country in these European affairs. Especially in England, there seems to be the illusion that the country would have a better future if it were independent and free from the restrictions of the European Union. It is widely thought that the UK would be able to take care of herself as a bold global economic power. Most British leaders have so far made great efforts to hold off the excessive ambitions of British patriots, who often exhibit a xenophobic feeling. Cameron instead has made a misstep by keeping a promise that was not made, and the consequences for the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, could be severe. The anti-immigration parties such as the British National Party (BNP) and the Party for the Independence of the United Kingdom (UKIP), which exploit the exasperation of citizens to create an intense racist and xenophobic rhetoric are having increasing success in the media. The British seem increasingly inclined to believe that immigrants have stolen them something from them, such as work, public or social aid grants. And so while all of Europe is struggling with the crisis of non-EU migrants and refugees, the UK calls for a reversal of the trend that it has seen, in recent years; arriving on British soil tens of thousands of European citizens.
What will be, therefore, the English choice? There may be a tendency towards isolationism, to seek security and economic well-being outside the European bloc. But would it really be the right answer to ensure a more secure future? I have many doubts about it.
And for us, young and old migrants; it’s time to stop and think carefully about our future. Both those of us who have been here for a long time and those who are preparing to now relocate to the UK.
To those who are planning to leave for the UK and who have your suitcase ready; remember a few important points that you would do well to examine carefully, especially considering the current political climate in which the United Kingdom is located.
DO NOT IMMIGRATE TO THE UK IF:
- you think you are going to live in the land of plenty, where the work is picked up on the street, the salaries are high, with huge houses at cheap prices, the people are friendly and welcoming, the fantastic weather, excellent facilities, the breathtaking city . England is actually cold and rainy, the houses have inflated prices, the British are not very welcoming to migrants and the work does not pick up the street! The UK job market is very competitive.
- you are doing it to solve all your problems. Starting in England will not solve the problems, on the contrary it increases their number. At least for the first few years.
- you are not flexible. Wherever you go, you will have to adapt to a new lifestyle. You have to adapt to a different climate, new people, to bizarre customs, different traditions, the English language which you will have to know very well, to a political system you may not like and to different mentalities. Remember that you are going to their house, not yours! So YOU will have to adapt.
- you are not willing to start from the bottom again. Even if you are professional or ultra-qualified students, get ready to start from the bottom! If you wish instead to emigrate into the fray, with no license in your pocket and no certainty then there is little future for you here.
- you don’t want to learn a foreign language. The language knowledge is now more than ever a fundamental requirement (not only necessary) and is required for any job in the UK, even for the humblest of jobs.
- you are escaping the economic situation of your country. Consider and research thoroughly whether the UK will actually be a long term improvement for you REALISTICALLY. If, for example, you flee because “in Italy you are unhappy, but abroad you will find the joy of living”, you can’t be sure that in the UK you will be happier. If you are leaving because in Italy it is impossible to mature professionally, then the question may be different.
- you aren’t prepared to experience dramatic lows; between loneliness and disorientation, dark days, boredom, homesickness, depression and sometimes also moments of sheer desperation. This does not mean that things will always be bad; indeed, maybe you will be delighted from the start. Much depends on your character, but I’d be a hypocrite if I told you that I didn’t get flashes of homesickness, especially at times when I was sick because of MS. “Who is in London for many years cannot fail to miss home. Whoever says otherwise has not yet spent enough time there, or he is lying”.
Having said that, if the desire, the courage and tenacity are not lacking there and the spirit of adventure awaits hopeful within you, if you are curious, open-minded and flexible and you are ready to accept everything that brings with it then go! Do not delay!
For those who are already here in the UK for some time however I would like to ask, are you happy and fulfilled abroad? Because if you aren’t, then there is no need to denigrate publically those Italians who want to remain in Italy while doing nothing. If you are not happy nor made and think that England is not a place for you; too expensive, too different, wrong or whatever, then I recommend you leave without hesitation and without delay.
Both EU Citizens and UK Citizens currently lack the knowledge and understanding of what the future will now hold. But be serene, people of Europe in the UK: for the moment no one is hurt!
I have personally been in the UK since 2011. I am now disillusioned and unpretentious to what the UK can actually offer me. The immigration to England in 2011 in the eyes of a Sardinian girl of 28 years had the flavor of certainty: certainty of having full rights, guaranteed health, friendships and sooner or later a fulfilling job that I had studied so much for. As life in the UK has often been difficult and has had often tasted bitter, I can say at once that it has completed the main purpose I had in mind at that time. Now in the light of this upcoming referendum, I regret to learn of this not-so-veiled xenophobia that makes you rethink. And I am speaking especially to teens today who leave their countries without qualifications and without employment. England seems to have fed the Europeans without a job rag in his pocket, of those who leave the fray and come without a job, settle down, find a home in cramped shared houses and begin their career in a restaurant, a pizzeria or a cafeteria.
While waiting to see what will happen in terms of domestic policy, I will require soon a permanent residence card on English soil (before this was not compulsory at the end of five years of stay in the UK, but since November 2015 it has become mandatory!).
I like living in England, I have worked tirelessly and with some pride for 5 years in a row, I do not complain about my life here and indeed like me there are many Italians who think the same. I would not like to see one day my rights in some way affected by the result of this referendum, but I am concerned this may happen.
Italians abroad would do well to inform themselves on the issue of the uncertainty of future life in the UK for EU nationals!