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Bigots have ruined my beloved Britain
23 Nov, 2018

Letter in the Daily Mail

On 22 November 2018 the Daily Mail published a letter from London4Europe member Magdalena Williams setting out her experiences and explaining why she is leaving the UK.

You can read the letter in the Daily Mail online edition here (in case the link does not work well, the letter is reproduced below).

It is above all a very sad story about the human cost of Brexit. There is a message here for all of us that we have a large healing task to be done whatever the result of the referendum. We need to think how we will do that.

It is also a reminder that we can get our message across even in unpromising fields so as to prevent Brexit and its harms. The Daily Mail has a new editor. But none of the Leave papers has a 100% Leave readership and editors need to cater for all their readers. So it is worth writing even to what you might regard as newspapers unlikely to publish your views.

You can read more personal stories about how Brexit affects EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU on Final Say for All  (who also run beehive events) and on in Limbo (who have also published a book of personal testimonies).

 

‘WHY don’t you go back to where you come from?’ taunted the class bully when I was 12.

In tears, I told my mum when I got home, and she said that we could not go back to our country, adding that we had as much right to live here as the school bully and her family.

I had been a refugee at eight when my family was granted asylum after our flight from Communism.

We became proud citizens of a Western European country and thought we were safe. As an adult, I never imagined I would again hear bullying voices telling migrants to go back to where they came from.

I considered the country I had made my home nearly 50 years ago to be a tolerant and multicultural society. I thought I had found my sanctuary, but had I deluded myself?

Not all of my family have UK passports. My German foster son could be deported after Brexit as he might not satisfy all the conditions to get settled status. He has lived here for 26 years and is anxious about his future.

My sister has an Austrian passport and has not been guaranteed permission to stay in the UK with her daughters and four grandchildren, though she has lived here since 1970.

My niece, who has an Austrian passport, lives in Essex with her four-year-old daughter, who has a UK passport. This little girl’s Jamaican father might not be allowed to live in Austria, but her mother might not be able to stay in the UK. Surely family life is a human right.

My cousin and his wife, who are EU citizens living in London, had their third little boy a month ago. He and his older brother will be British citizens because his parents have lived and worked in this country for nine years. They have permanent residency after filling in an 80-page application form.

They are planning to apply for British citizenship for themselves and their eldest son, who was born a year before he would have qualified automatically. They had saved up a deposit for a house as they are all squeezed into a one-bedroom flat, but this will have to be spent on the passport application, which costs between £3,900 and £4,800. They both work hard and have integrated into cosmopolitan, multicultural West London.

Apart from a yearly visit to their parents and the children’s grandparents, they don’t plan to leave the UK. They have made great friends, the children speak two languages, and they consider the UK to be their home. One of the reasons they came to live and work in Britain was because I lived here and had waxed lyrical about life in my beloved country.

When I told them I am planning to leave the country by March, they were flabbergasted.

I am going because Britain doesn’t feel like my home any longer. Bigots, xenophobes, racists and fascists have been emboldened to voice their hatred and anger.

Plus, with the devaluation of the pound and rising costs, my pension will not be sufficient to keep me and my two dogs. I can’t wait decades for the UK to recover so, aged 70, I will be a refugee again, looking for a little corner of the world to make my new sanctuary.

 

MAGDALENA WILLIAMS

 

 

Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily of London4Europe