When Britain voted to leave the European Union, I was heart-broken; soon after, fear set in. What would happen to my family now? While my husband and children held British passports, I didn’t. Would I still be welcome to live in Britain, the country I’d called home for more than fifteen years?
Eventually, fear and despair gave way to defiance.
“Fine, kick me out, if you want, I’ve got 27 other countries to choose from!”
Friends and family sought to reassure me that all would be well.
“They won’t kick out people like you,” they said.
People like me? Swedes? Blond and blue-eyed Scandinavians, Boris Johnson lookalikes? We, the people who gave Britain ABBA and IKEA?
When my blond and blue-eyed four-year-old niece was verbally abused on a London street for speaking Swedish to her nanny shortly after the referendum, my husband advised me to play it safe by not speaking Swedish to our mixed-heritage daughters while on public transport.
In the wake of the Windrush scandal, and following reports that numerous EU citizens who’ve lived in Britain for decades, paid their taxes and married British citizens, have had their applications for permanent residence rejected, it seems that anything is possible, even the unthinkable.
So why is it that, only months away from the day that Britain is set to leave the EU, I find myself muttering “Go on, get on with it, for goodness sake,” while reading the morning paper? Get on with what? Brexit, of course!
Am I really so fed up with the Brexit debacle, the botched negotiations, the inept government, and equally dysfunctional opposition, the different stands on a second referendum, a so-called ‘people’s vote’, that I just want Brexit over with, deal or no deal?
Not quite, but two years on from the referendum, I simply fail to see how the Brexit issue will ever be resolved unless the government follows through on its promise to take Britain out of the European Union. When the petitions for a second referendum first began to circulate, I felt a glimmer of hope light up in me. Perhaps there wouldn’t be a Brexit after all. But on reflection, it seems that a second referendum would at best result in a tiny victory for Remain, the legitimacy of which would be as contested as that of the first referendum.
Brexit sucks, there’s no doubt in my mind about that and it will probably take many years to repair the damage done to Britain, economically, politically and socially, once it’s left the EU. Yet perhaps all this is necessary in order for Britain to finally come to terms with the fact that it is no longer – and never will be again – an imperialist superpower. What kind of Britain will rise out of the ashes of Brexit is anyone’s guess, but perhaps it will finally prompt some much-needed soul-searching.
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung