I had been joking lately that if Trump wins in the US, and the new extreme left party Podemos wins in Spain, I will have no other alternative than to move to the UK, that had always seemed to be a country with strong common sense. After all, England has always held an special spot on my heart, as I spent one of the best years of my life there, and there it was that I started life as an adult, where I became independent and learned to love the world. I even love their weather!
Well, moving there is an option no more. I better look for new grounds for my future exile, as soon enough that wouldn’t even be a possibility. Until yesterday, as a citizen of the European Union, I would have been able to move to the United Kingdom and work right away. But that will no longer be possible.
I have read plenty of articles about the economical and political consequences of the so call Brexit. There are many, and they are worrisome, but I will leave those to the experts. My concern today are the little things. The things that the people voting “yes” to leave the European Union probably didn’t think about. Because the UK they are yearning to go back to doesn’t exist anymore. The UK they are transitioning to is a country that chose to exit a union of 27 countries that had decided to work together. In a way it will be like an ex. Someone you know well, but for whom you feel a certain contempt now.
I get some of their concerns, like the overbearing ruling of the European Union en everything from measuring systems to parental rights, which has to be specially bothersome to such a peculiar country as the UK (for goodness sake, they even drive on the left side!). Or the seeming trouble that continental Europe seems to be having protecting itself from terrorism (when Turkey deports someone, it may be a good indicator that they shouldn’t be moving freely between other countries). But as I recognize those issues, I feel closer to those who voted “no”, hoping to stay in the EU.
I cannot remember the time prior to Spain being part of the European Union. I was barely six years old when my country joined the then EEU in 1986. I grew up, and, more importantly, studied, in a Europe pretty much without borders. Even though I obtained my first passport when I was 11, in order to visit the US, I traveled around Europe in my teenage years with nothing more than my DNI, the Spanish equivalent of your state ID. Back then I also rooted for a Real Madrid which galaxy was composed of players like Zidane, Figo and Beckham, who were able to play together because, as EU citizens, they didn’t count against the 3 foreign player cap. I was supposed to practice English during a summer in the south of England that I actually spent learning some more practical, if less educative, things, always in the good company of fellow European teenagers. A couple of years later I was able to spend my last year of college in England through an Erasmus grant. There, I made friends from different countries, I finally learned how to speak in proper English, and realized that I was able to live on my own. I don’t think I would be writing this, right now, in an American blog, if it hadn’t been for all those experiences.
The thought that many of those things won’t be possible in a couple of years saddens me. To know that my kids won’t be able to spend an Erasmus year in England, or that teams like Manchester United will have to rethink their player roster so it fits the foreign player rule may seem trivial compared to stock markets and international politics. But sometimes, the trivial has more impact on the everyday folks. Not to speak of all the friends that I have living and working in England and who, all of a sudden, may be needing a work visa. I still have to read somewhere how the UK intends to deal with the bureaucratic nightmare that awaits them. They can always ask their EU ex-partners. Although I have the feeling that they may not be very eager to help.
Meanwhile, and given the fact that I don’t have much hope for either tomorrow’s Spanish election, or the American ones in November, I better should start looking for another country to move to. Canada, anyone?
While I decide, I will go back to read in Spain a book I bought in the US written by a German author about a French bookstore. Just so I don’t forget that globalization, in many ways, and despite its many detractors, rocks.
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