Having moved to the UK two months after the Brexit referendum, I thought I was prepared.
It turned out I really wasn’t ready for how I felt after Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet agreed on a draft deal with the EU.
‘End of free movement. Skill-based immigration system.’
These are cold, fancy ways of saying that I, an Italian citizen who has been living here for less than five years, will need to pay a fee to the British government and apply for a permanent residence status.
It also means that my application might get rejected on criteria I don’t even know right now.
Honestly, it is fucking terrifying.
Why the Brexit deal is so terrifying
I had to summon all of my inner strength to not have a meltdown in front of my mostly British colleagues, who would probably have failed to understand.
I’m the product of my experiences in two countries, just like the other 3million EU nationals living in the UK. As are the 1million UK citizens living in mainland Europe.
Is this so-called skill-based system going to take all this into account?
I’ve always thought and been told that being able to speak at least two languages and being productive in two countries is an asset: a skill.
However, having experienced first-hand this isolationist frenzy the UK is going through, I’m not so sure anymore. In fact, there is very little I’m sure of at the moment.
It wasn’t always like this. I have always wanted to live in the UK, ever since I was a teenager. That, I was sure about.
Why I want to live my life in London
See, I am a proud Anglophile. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home country. The bonds I have with friends, family, and places over there won’t be shaken by living an hour behind, a few miles away.
I didn’t leave Italy because I was desperate to flee the southern European country that some expect to be next in line for a financial collapse.
I did so because I wanted to experience more than what I was used to and was comfortable with.
It’s a nice feeling, but I don’t expect everyone to agree. The majority of Brits – and English native speakers to be fair – can only speak one language and have hardly ever left the country for longer than a holiday. It is perfectly fine if it works for them. It has never worked for me.
I’m right where I want to be. I just don’t know if I’ll be allowed to stay.
Brexit has fueled hate
What also scares me about Brexit is the hate it has fueled and will continue to fuel until 29 March 2019, and surely even after then.
As a white person, I’m well aware of my inherent privilege. I’m nowhere close to experience the amount of vile hate ethnic minorities still face.
But as a bisexual and a woman, it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of discrimination. I’ve never thought that being an EU citizen would become a reason for being treated differently, though.
Europe, the US and now Brazil seem to be falling for this right-wing bullshit of fearing differences instead of cherishing them. Sadly, the UK is no exception.
More than two years in, I realized I might have idealized this country.
London claims to be open, but you can still get punched in the face if you dare speak your language on the tube. It’s good I’m not a seven-minute-vocal-message-to-my-mom kind of person, I guess.
A People’s Vote may be the answer
On our third date, my English boyfriend lied to me about having voted remain at the referendum. Before you say anything, he didn’t vote to leave. He simply didn’t vote at all.
He forgot to register to vote after moving to a new place. And he was just ashamed to tell me, an Italian girl he happened to like.
Others didn’t vote. Or vote to leave, falling for the promises made by politicians who left their seats faster than you can say ‘hard Brexit’.
Many voted and then googled what Brexit would mean for the country the next day.
I’m not going to be the one who says democracy is overrated. If we’re talking cliches, I’d rather be the person who says that everybody deserves a second chance.
A People’s Vote might fix this #BrexitShambles nobody really understands but everyone is afraid of. If we’ll ever get so lucky to get it, perhaps make sure you google first this time around.