After last week’s leaked document to the Guardian suggesting post-Brexit immigration policy will dramatically refocus policy to put British workers first – Adam Benghiat is worried.
He’s a 27-year-old French national who grew up just south of Paris in Brie-Comte-Robert and now lives in Bedford.
Since the Brexit vote, he’s been living in a growing sense of fear that sooner rather than later, ‘things are going to be way more difficult for me.’
He says watching news about last week’s leaked document was particularly terrifying. Speaking to Gay Star News he says:
‘After the referendum and David Cameron’s resignation, and even still a few months ago, I genuinely thought the government was going to realize the mistake they had made.
‘But this document is indeed the proof that shit is getting real: and that’s super scary.’
Benghiat fears the politicians rhetoric will mean Brexit could see an increasing rise in hate towards Europeans.
‘They say they are going to “deter EU immigrants” What does that mean? What if they send people back to the border? Could it even mean encouraging British people to report EU Nationals suddenly illegally living in the UK?
‘This may end up all being an exaggeration. Or it may not. That’s what I fear: we don’t know.’
Today the Labour opposition is planning to oppose a key piece of legislation in front of the UK Government as part of Brexit.
If successful, it will start the process of ending the supremacy the EU has on British law by converting all existing EU laws into domestic UK ones.
However, Labour says they believe it amounts to a power grab, as Conservative ministers will be able to alter some laws without Parliamentary approval.
This all adds to the uncertainty and worry Benghiat feels.
Living in fear
This uncertainty is making it difficult for Benghiat and thousands of other LGBTI Europeans to plan for their future here.
Benghiat is an actor, so on a professional level, he fears acting agents will stop hiring foreign people.
‘When an agent offers you representation, it basically means they believe in you and they are going to invest in you, but after this many won’t take the risk of wasting their time and money on people who will evidently be refused some work because of their nationality.’
This, of course, is something that applies to most industries.
Benghiat says the document’s policy, designed to create more opportunity for British workers, may be termed geopolitics ‘but I call it racism.’
He hopes London, where a key remain vote was registered, may stay a somewhat safe haven for EU nationals.
‘I think London may be able to become some sort of city-state of some sort, with laws of its own where EU Nationals will have hopefully face fewer limitations than in the rest of UK. Especially if Sadiq Khan remains the Mayor of London during this time.’
But he isn’t resting his hopes on this alone:
‘I am considering applying for citizenship. At the moment, a European citizen can apply for British citizenship after 5 years of residence in the UK. So I could apply in two years, but they might change that.
‘Of course, I could get married to my boyfriend, that’s something we’ve thought about.’
If they want me out, should I even fight to stay?
Even with these options in front of him, Benghiat feels torn. If British people voted for the EU to go, to put British citizens first, is that the kind of country he wants to live in?
‘Why would I spend all of my time and energy trying to make up strategies to desperately stay in a country that’s cold and rainy?
‘I could literally just pack my things today and take the next flight to Barcelona.’
Frustrated at being an EU National on the front line, and yet with no say in the matter; Benghiat feels a little lost.
Asking about his future he says ‘it is impossible to tell where I’ll be in two years time.’
A sentiment that LGBTI Europeans living in Brexit Britain will be feeling up and down the country.
And it’s those who have moved to the UK because of the relative safety the UK offers LGBTI people Benghiat fears for the most:
‘We know many LGBTI people come here for peace, comfort or even to escape a corrupted government.
‘If we close our borders, make their lives more difficult than it already is, this spread stigma all around.
‘It’s sad to think a western, modern government could send thousand of LGBTI people back to countries where they could be persecuted. I hope that doesn’t happen’