Anne-Sophie at UEA

An International Student of Literature in England.

On Brexit

The day after the referendum, very early in the morning, my family and I were at the airport waiting for our plane to New York. The results of the referendum weren’t all out yet but I was rather confident that Remain would win 52% against 48% for Leave until the end! However, as I was waiting at the gate, I started realising the UK would leave the EU. A few hours later and, when I read “Brexit” everywhere, I didn’t really feel anything. I’d avoided everything related to this referendum because I liked to believe people were more intelligent than that and why bother? I can’t vote in England.

During my first two years in England, the thought that the UK might leave the EU and therefore make things more complicated for EU citizens never occurred to me. And it might seem naïve but the thought that a country would seriously want to leave the EU never occurred to me either (or at least, that one country would let its people make such a big decision).

Over the past two years, I’ve felt like myself and at home in England – a French girl, a European student, like many many many others at UEA and in the UK. I felt so lucky to be part of the EU, to understand its values and why it was created, to be part of a Union in which I had so many options, rights and opportunities that were so easy to seize.

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And now, I am slowly starting to realise that because of some (old) people who are simply racist or don’t understand anything about economics, I’m just going to become an immigrant, a foreigner that some people and the government don’t want. At least this is how I am feeling right now. But let’s be honest: we all know their scapegoats aren’t French girls who are lucky enough to be able to go to university abroad… which makes it even worse because of how unfair and racist this is.

The UK hasn’t left the EU yet so everything will be fine for my final year of university… But then, what? I planned to stay and work in England. Will someone give me a job now that I’m a European immigrant who has come to steal their job and money? I’ve come to England for the culture, for the university system, for diversity and multiculturalism, I’ve given them £21,000 for a degree when I could have gone to university in France or in Scotland for free, I want to keep participating in their economy, I want to work for them… But what will happen?

Uncertainty is the thing that infuriates and worries me the most, in life in general and in this particular situation. Nobody knows what will happen to all the European citizen who have been living in the UK, for a couple of years or for decades in many cases (or for the British people living abroad too). It is also so sad for the future generations who might not be given these incredible opportunities.

It is obvious the media and dirty racist politicians didn’t help voters either. I’m just so angry to hear about growing nationalism, racism and Brexit-related hate crimes. And finally, I’m sick of French politicians already using Brexit as an example to follow despite having absolutely no hindsight.

I just need answers and it is obvious nobody has them for now.

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2 comments on “On Brexit

  1. aelianus
    29 September, 2016

    Hello Anne-Sophie I am a British citizen and a quarter French. I voted for Brexit not because I am racist and certainly not because I dislike France. I do not believe that other Britons voted for Brexit for racist reasons either. When polled Brexit voters tend to say ‘democratic control over our own laws’ was their most important reason. I love France very dearly and I wish her well. One of the things I hope for after Brexit is that France may become stronger vis-a-vis Germany in what remains of the EU. I fear the EU and the Euro are being run for the benefit of Germany and the German economy in a way which harms most of the other EU and Euro Zone members. I voted for Brexit because the EU is so undemocratic. It is like being governed by FIFA. There is no real common political culture in the EU ‘no European demos’ and so it is inherently and unstoppably prone to corruption. People in England were angry that the politicians they really know and can judge were not the ones who really determined at least half (and arguably more) of the laws that really affect ordinary people. They wanted their liberties back. I think Charles de Gaulle understood all this very well and that was why vetoed Britain’s membership of the EEC and fought to keep final control of the EEC in the hands of the elected national governments instead of the Commission. At the time a lot of people thought de Gaulle was anti-British by the General said he was doing it partly for our own good. We should have believed him. It is wonderful that you have chosen to study in England when it would have cost you less to stay in France or go to Scotland. I hope you stay in Britain as long as possible and that you are always treated well and warmly welcome. May amity always reign between the two finest nations in the world!

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    • Anne-Sophie
      1 October, 2016

      Hello! Thanks for your comment and the interesting points that you raised. You are right that there may be things to complain about regarding the functioning of the EU, and I never pretend to know much about politics because I don’t. However, I still hold my point that there shouldn’t have been a referendum — because people didn’t know what they were voting for, and we still have to idea what to expect of the post-Brexit situation in the UK.

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