Guardian Brexit article nails it

A new article in the Guardian by Jon Henley nails basically every concern I’ve been missing from the two books I’ve just read (see previous blogs).

Let us count the ways in which it so nails.

1. ‘ “The worst is the uncertainty,” said Stephanie Zihms, a German national from near Bremen, who lives in Edinburgh. “Everyone talks about Brexit in big-picture economic or political terms; no one considers what it might mean personally, to so many people,” said Zihms, a post-doctoral academic. “My life is here now. Would I need a visa to visit my family? A minimum number of points to be able to work? No one can say.”

2. ‘Chief among EU migrants’ worries in the event of “Brexit” are the end of fast-track EU-only lines at passport control; the return of work permits for employees; the abandonment of reciprocal public healthcare arrangements; tighter restrictions on studying and doing business; possible higher taxes on foreign property ownership and cash transfers between member states; and the treatment of foreign pensions.’

3. ‘In fact, the practical consequences of a Brexit for the approximately 2.4 million EU citizens in Britain and nearly 2 million Britons estimated to be living on the continent are not yet clear. An eventual exit process, which would involve unpicking decades of legislation and regulation, would probably take years to negotiate.

Exactly. No one has a clue, least of all – I would wager – the Tory government. If people are given the option to vote OUT, will anyone have any idea what sort of OUT we are going to? I haven’t seen a damn thing written on these subjects, with any degree of certainty or forethought. Anywhere.

4. ‘ “Europe’s about peace, understanding between peoples. Long term, I’m not sure how I’d feel about living in a country that turned its back on that. I do feel resentful, a bit. Like maybe I backed the wrong horse.”

5. ‘Richard Reed, 35, a British educationalist living here with his German partner – also in education – said the “horribly inward-looking nature, the lack of openness, of real engagement” of the British debate around the EU depressed him.

6. ‘ “If the UK leaves the EU, I worry it’ll finally push our country over the precipice of xenophobia and isolation on which we have been teetering for the past few years.”

Damn right. Even if EU citizens get themselves British citizenship, how will they feel? I’ve spoken to many of them who feel a real sense of “I don’t want to be part of a club that doesn’t want my country of origin as a member”, kind of thing.

7. ‘ “My work is funded by a generous EU grant, which I’ll have to renew when it runs out in three years. What happens to that if there’s a Brexit?”

Indeed. There are massive swathes of this sort of thing… which – forgive the generalisation – Johnny-UKIP-Waverer would probably have no idea about.

8. ‘ “Citizenship would make me feel more integrated. Strengthen the sense of belonging. But … I don’t know. If Britain really does leave – that might well change my outlook. I might, actually, just go somewhere else.”

Jon Henley, congratulations on doing in one newspaper article what Hugo Dixon and David Charter failed to do in the course of two books: hint at the human story.

Conversations can continue @timwthornton on Twitter.

 

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