05 Jul I am a product of the EU
Great Britain is that ungracious guest at a party that didn’t bring a bottle, scoffed all the canapés and finger food, partied to the max then belched loudly as he stumbled out of the door, and slagged off everyone else at the party in the the taxi on the way home.
I am a product of the EU. However 7 days after the Brexit result I find myself googling how to apply for Italian citizenship. The EU was the springboard into my adult working life and the foundation upon which my career, marriage, family and friendships have been built on. Raised in West Cornwall I studied languages at University and lived and worked in Barcelona, London and Milan over the next 20 years. The EU framework facilitated all this for me and many others like myself. Ease of travel, opportunities to study and work and finding places to live were always pretty seamless and smooth. Tax contributions I paid in each country would also in theory allow me to eventually draw a pension regardless of the EU state where I had worked. I never felt envious of my American or Canadian friends that had all the hassle and headaches of residency permits and visas and what not. The EU worked. It helped me “get on” in the world, meet so many amazing people and my life is far more colorful and meaningful because of it.
My husband is Italian, although the standing joke in the family is that he is a wannabe German. Our children, born in Italy, are bilingual. My daughter has a very Helen Mirren English accent which I love and some quirky mis-pronunciations that I love even more. The kids then also speak a bresciano inflected Italian. We totally feel European and are bringing our children up as Europeans. Most of our friends are similar, multi-cultural, multi-lingual clans growing their families, carving out careers and lives dotted across different parts of the European map.
I have always felt welcome wherever I have lived and worked and that my British background was always valued and respected. All this now hangs on the balance. GB is that ungracious guest at a party that didn’t bring a bottle, scoffed all the canapés and finger food, partied to the max then belched loudly as he stumbled out of the door, and slagged off everyone else at the party in the the taxi on the way home.
I am not sure if we will get invited to the party again. My Italian husband, was already speculating last night that now is a time for the real superpower Europe to form and reach greater integration. GB did create blockages and stopped progress on initiatives in the EU framework. They can start looking at things like the same taxation across EU countries if GB is not there to party poop anymore.
Annoyed, I went to bed. 7 days after the Brexit result this is where I am at:
– I still feel slightly sick at the stomach when I wake. Will any future moves within Europe ever be as simple again for me?
– On a macro-level how will Brexit impact UK trade relations and the economy in the long-term future?
– I am currently googling how to apply for Italian citizenship, so that I can still have an EU status like the rest of my family.
– I am still incredulously shaking my head that my homeland county of Cornwall, one of the poorest counties in GB, overwhelmingly voted out of the EU despite receiving millions of EU funds each year.
– I am frightened by the venom of the ugly racist sentiment that is dividing GB and has in essence been whipped up by the mainstream media and the Leave side.
– I am alarmed that those who voted “leave” seem to have done so based on an emotional sentimental knee-jerk reaction to return to Britishness or as a protest vote about their disenchantment with GB. The impact on the economy, financial markets and trading seemingly has not been taken into account. The pound sterling is currently at its lowest in 31 years.
– I am disgusted that the leave campaign executed such a deceitful campaign and won votes based on a load of false promises. I am also disgusted that no-one is being held to account over this.
– I am fed up with the old-boy network of politicians of the Boris’, Goves’, Camerons’ and their public school knobbery.
– I am embarrassed that we are under the world’s mocking scrutiny for this result.
I am sad that the qualities that that have always made GB great: vision, tolerance, and leadership basically became obsolete when the Brexit result became clear.
– I am sorry to read FB posts from my Italian friends who live in London being asked out of concern “what is the atmosphere on the street like there?” and status updates such as “I will never have the same relationship with this country again.”
I hope there is a way that we can get back on the guest list to the party and turn this situation around. Regardless of whether I obtain Italian citizenship and EU status again I know I will always feel European now anyway. It’s w ho I have become over the last 20 years and the EU helped me to chase my dreams and enrich my life in so many ways. For that I am profoundly grateful. I feel an affinity with, and a sense of allegiance and loyalty to the EU. Sadly I realise too that unless there is a U-turn on Brexit, my allegiance and love for GB will never quite be the same again.
Emma Cuthbertson is founder and owner of La Piccola Agency, a boutique Marketing and PR agency based in Northern Italy.