Eric: Well, here we go. It begins. The British government has sent the letter to Brussels.
Now I’m not going to give my opinion, or start a political tsunami, as to be honest, I just don’t know enough about it all. Our angle is this… We are a new couple. Just starting out on the road of our relationship. In love. Excited for the future. Living in the honeymoon period of our new lives. I am British, born and raised. With hugely limited views on the “big wide world.” My experience of Europe is nothing more than international football competitions, funny sounding languages, posh and exotic restaurants opening up in my home town, and holidays mostly consisting of sunburn and cheap beer hangovers. In my mind, I guess I have never really cared about the rest of the world. It sounds bad, I know, but my world was small, compact and just right for me. (Lagom – I’ve now learned!)
Suddenly, I meet Erika and my eyes have been opened. She is so much more travelled than I am. She has worked away from home, in different countries, has friends all around the world, fluently speaks three languages… has her own suitcase! (Something that I have only purchased very recently.) Her views are exciting to me, her experiences are something that I love to hear about. (Goodness, I have lived such a sheltered life.)
So, at a time when we should be concentrating on each other, focusing on the dawn of our love… 52% of Britain is, potentially, going to mess it all up.
“Expats worry about their property rights.”
“Freedom of movement in jeopardy.”
“Cut off date for EU rights.”
These are just some of the headlines that I have seen… and I’m not sure that I understand any of them. Erika and I, will one day soon, decide on whether to live together in Britain or Sweden… But that decision has just become slightly more difficult.
Erika has friends who already live in the UK. Working in London, married or in steady, long term relationships, with children, with property, and I can only assume that, because of their Human Rights, as well as their EU rights, they will be safe. The negotiations over the next few years will protect them from any deportation or “suddenly becoming an illegal immigrant over night.” They have all been living comfortably for 5 years or more, and so, maybe, a long and lengthy form to fill in would be the worst that can happen. I don’t know.
But what happens if you are starting that whole process now? Just beginning a new “international” relationship? We have not been living together… in either country. We have only taken short breaks to each others homes. How can we now stay longer? Are we on a time limit to make the decision? This “cut off” date? If Erika moved to the UK yesterday, would she be allowed to stay? But if she moves to the UK tomorrow? What then? What about me? Will Sweden accept me as a citizen, now that I come from the “black sheep” European country? Will I be outlawed, along with my countryman? What about work? Do we now have to apply for a visa? Do we have to get married to seal our citizenship? Will the Swedish government be more lenient on me than the British government will be on her? Will they now assume that we are getting married, like so many other “green-card” weddings? Will the whole thing undermine our love? How aware of the actions of my government do we need to be? Can we just ignore it until it all goes away?
The truth is… I’m not sure that anyone really knows.
And so… It begins.
We are now truly at the mercy of Brexit.
Amongst others who will become the “First Brexit Couples.”
Affected by the decisions of others. The 48% who held our future in their hands. The “make Britain Great again” brigade, who’s faith in the British government far outweighs my own. I hope that they were right. I hope that some good will come out of all of this. And above all else… I hope that, in this time of change, Erika and I will continue to move forward, making our own decisions, even if, for now, we are unsure, unprotected and frightened for an uncertain future, which is spiralling beyond our control.
God help us all.