How The Brexit Gave Rise To A New Exodus In Europe

credit: nature

Europe (Parliament Politic Magazine) – Early in the morning, Kirsten Whitehouse was watching TV news when it finally dawned on her that the United Kingdom had decided to leave the European Union. Following the Brexit referendum on June 24, 2016, Whitehouse, 48, claimed she was “flabbergasted” by the outcome. She was sitting in her house in the wealthy town of St. Albans, just north of London, and she was sitting there, unbelieving, wondering about her future. “I needed to support my kids! What would happen if I lost my ability to work in the UK? Whitehouse, born and reared in Germany before relocating to the UK as a young lady, adds, “I was really upset.”

Whitehouse Says

The Brexit vote news got to me. All of us were convinced that it was not possible for it to occur. Whitehouse was only one of the 3.5 million Europeans who had settled in the UK, secure that this was a safe choice due to freedom of movement inside the EU. They had to deal with uncertainties about their future overnight. Is it even possible for them to stay in the UK? What about their children attending school and their jobs?

“Everything was so unclear. The administration provided absolutely no clarification. I was really afraid,” recalls Whitehouse. “I didn’t fully comprehend the implications for years.” After completing her schooling, Whitehouse relocated to the UK two years later. She had first come in 1994 to work as a nanny. She claims, “I fell in love with life in the UK.” In addition to being married and starting a family, she moved on to work in marketing and event planning. Leo, age 19, and Richard, age 17, are her two boys.

These days, Whitehouse owns and operates Wolf Approach Fitness. The UK provides “a great deal of support” for following your passion and starting a business, which she finds endearing. “It’s one of the many reasons I still firmly believe that I am a citizen of Europe and have always considered the UK to be my true home.”

But all of that was uncertain following the Brexit vote. In addition to obtaining citizenship for herself, Whitehouse applied for German citizenship for her boys born in the United Kingdom. This was done to protect their rights as Europeans in the event that they had to migrate due to her ambiguous position in the United Kingdom. However, she experienced mixed emotions when being granted UK citizenship. She claims that rather than feeling like a celebration of her relationship with the UK, it was a last-minute decision made because she felt like she had no other option. There was a danger to my life.

In spite of a massive, widely reported push to exit the EU before the 2016 vote, many in the UK, including Whitehouse, believed it would never come to pass. Many people were surprised by the outcome. Fear, frustration, and resentment had time to fester since no one knew what would happen next. In the months after the vote, hate crimes against people in Eastern Europe reached all-time highs

Read More: Busting Menstrual Misinformation: Latest Study Reveals Alarming Trends

People Aggression

People marched through the streets to express opposition to the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment. Europeans and Britons expressed fear and outrage about what Brexit had taken away from them. More Europeans have departed the UK than have come since Brexit. Europeans get almost the same rights under the Settlement Scheme as before Brexit. The only distinction is that they will need to reapply as immigrants if they want to return to the UK after they leave for five years.

The procedure by which an immigrant becomes a complete citizen, known as naturalization, is traditionally understood as the last stop on the path to integration. Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit (MIGZEN) study project co-led by Nando Sigona states, “But in the case of Brexit and Europeans in the UK, the opposite happened.” People felt safe and at ease in Britain as Europeans; thus, they didn’t feel the need to naturalize. They had to naturalize now in order to protect themselves.

The Settlement Scheme, new rights created by the same government that took away the old ones, is frequently the target of this mistrust. Sigona says he advises citizenship to anyone who can obtain it. However, he also notes that “there’s still a strong sense of pain [associated with Brexit] and of this issue still being unresolved.” Because history may plausibly repeat itself, citizenship is the only guarantee.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.