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‘My Brexit nightmare’: readers on how the uncertainty is affecting their lives

Posted On May 9, 2019 at 7:37 pm by / Comments Off on ‘My Brexit nightmare’: readers on how the uncertainty is affecting their lives

We ask readers in Britain and Europe to tell us how they are coping

As dates for the UK to exit the EU come and go, weve been asking readers to tell us how theyre dealing with the uncertainty. People who responded to a Guardian reader callout have described how the lack of clarity around Brexit has affected their livelihoods, raised fears of families being split apart, delayed travel plans and increased levels of anxiety.

How can we plan when we dont know what were planning for?

David Lane, 37, Norwich, shop owner and musician

David
David Lane.

This has been a farce from the day the referendum decision was made. Nothing has been handled correctly and it has created great uncertainty for everyone.

My husband and I run a clothes shop. Im also a musician and piano teacher, and people are spending less and less. We have European brands in the shop and weve had comments about future trading. We have no idea if well be able to continue to receive deliveries after leaving the EU or how much prices will increase if there is no deal. How can we plan when we dont know what were planning for?

Suffering from anxiety is a nightmare through this. We all feel so angry and left out of the decision-making process. We voted to remain and passionately desire to stay within the EU. I do fear that if any agreement fails, we will leave with no deal at some point. I fear that bigotry has a platform and without care it could become the norm again. Im also deeply concerned about everything that has been neglected while Brexit has been rumbling along. We live in sad times.

None of our rights have been guaranteed

Sandra Moretti, 44, Bromley, teacher and EU citizen living in the UK

Sandra
Sandra Moretti.

My husband and I arrived respectively from France and Italy in 1994 to study at a British university. We have two children who were born here but none of us has a British passport. I have been incredibly stressed since June 2016, having many sleepless nights debating what to do.

The past few weeks have reached a pinnacle in terms of uncertainty. Potentially, the UK will leave the EU in three weeks and none of our rights have been guaranteed. I am particularly worried about my children, who deserve to have a British passport, but Im totally scared of applying for fear of being rejected, which has happened to several people I know and who have gone back to their country of origin. It feels undemocratic, racist and shameful for a country which has always prided itself on being open. This is why I loved the UK, but I feel totally betrayed. I still think I will stay in the UK, the country where I have lived longer than my country of origin, unless things descend into complete chaos. No deal would be catastrophic, humanely and economically.

Despite all the rhetoric about protecting UK citizens nothing has been finalised

Anna Evans, Stockholm, UK citizen, recently retired and living in Sweden

Reader
Anna Evans.

Im looking forward to the end of uncertainty, but fearful it will mean the end of my dream. I recently retired and hope to be able to remain in Sweden after Brexit to be near our sons young family.

I wanted to be an everyday part of my son and grandchildrens lives and am angry that despite all the rhetoric about protecting UK citizens living in the EU nothing has been finalised.

I have to travel to the UK on 8 April and if theres no deal, to ensure Im allowed back in on the same terms as when I leave Sweden, I have to get a stamp in my passport. As the process for getting a stamp wont be put in place before a decision is taken on the form of Brexit, the chances are I will not be able to get a stamp in time. This means instead of looking forward to being able to stay in Sweden for at least the next year and having plenty of time to sell up, pack and find somewhere to live in the UK, I may have to do it in three months.

Personally, my best hope would be for a long extension and a referendum. Most urgent is a guarantee that, whatever the outcome, the rights of UK and EU nationals already resident in current EU countries will be protected.

Is my lifestyle about to be made illegal?

Andy Walker, 42, mobile oil worker, recently made redundant

Andy
Andy Walker.

I live in a camper van in France, Spain and Portugal, mostly, working four weeks on and four off in the oil industry, but now wonder is my lifestyle about to made illegal? Can I still legally drive in Europe? Is my van still insured? If I have an accident and Im hurt, will I be treated?

I have recently been made redundant and had planned financially for this eventuality. I was looking forward to taking some time off, but if we leave with no deal all the effort I have put into saving up so that I could travel may be wasted. Will the money Ive earned soon become worth much less? Im attempting to seek clarification about my ability to drive and be insured in Europe. Im also trying to find out if my plan to work as a seasonaire in Courchevel next year is realistic, or if that opportunity has now been taken away from me.

Brexit influences my daily life massively

Prof Constanze Bonifer, 64, West Midlands, research scientist and EU citizen living in the UK

It is a feeling of desperation. I am a German citizen who has lived and worked in the UK for 21 years. I am married to a British man and had thought that this was my home. That mental state has changed dramatically it is hard to accept that the majority in this country rejects immigrants. I am always told not you, of course, but that is not how the mind works.

Constanze
Constanze Bonifer.

Brexit influences my daily life massively. I run a research group at a university, we work on blood cell development and leukaemia, doing many experiments. Applications from EU countries are down. EU scientists are leaving, and EU scientists from abroad do not come here anymore the hostile climate has really worked. Our admin has only just woken up to the fact that most of our (often perishable) supplies we need to do our experiments come from warehouses strategically scattered all over Europe, and are frantically trying to cope with the fact that transport may be held up.

My husband and I are discussing leaving once we retire. We still have a few years of funding and employ staff, therefore we have a responsibility to them. But once we leave work, we may not stay here. However, most of my pension comes from here, and if the pound suffers a similar crash like after the referendum, we will struggle. My hopes are that Brexit is cancelled.

A no-deal Brexit could be a disaster for us financially

Ben Canny, 38, London, film editor

Ben
Ben Canny.

It is an absolute shambles. I voted remain and was gutted with the result, but never expected it to be this chaotic. Its definitely a worst-fears sort of situation. I work a lot in Sweden and Norway and currently a no-deal Brexit could be a disaster for me financially. I have work booked in for April and May and have no idea if I will be able to go. My representatives over there have made enquiries at the UK embassy, with no luck.

Having a nine-month-old baby adds to the stress. My wife and I have half-jokingly discussed moving to Norway … ironically, of course. Its not part of the EU yet has all the economic benefits. It remains to be seen whether this half-joke becomes more serious over the next few months. I worry for my familys immediate economic security. I worry what precedent this sets for other Eurosceptic parties in the EU and what that means for liberal progressive ideals. I worry about the young people in this country being cut off from so many opportunities to study, work, fall in love, live life where they want. My wife is half-Irish so my child will be sorted, but there are a lot of people who arent so lucky.

I hope that any deal will be put back to the people with an option to remain on the ballot. Although, million-people marches aside, that seems a distant dream.

I feel some reassurance that I live in Scotland

Alan Gardner, 44, Livingston, carer

Alan
Alan Gardner.

I am less worried than I was a few months ago about the impending date, whenever it is. I was very depressed about this looming date of doom. Eventually, I had to unfollow various Brexit commentators on social media who, although well-meaning, were greatly adding to my sense of panic. I had to accept that there was really nothing I could do to stop it.

I feel some reassurance that I live in Scotland, that we have a genuine and capable leader in Nicola Sturgeon, and that if the very worst came, we at least have the hope of unshackling ourselves from this whole mess by becoming independent. I have looked on with a mixture of disbelief and disgust at how Westminster has ignored the rest of the UK, especially Scotland, in this whole affair, treating the rest of us with a disdain which will surely come to haunt them. Whatever happens, there will indeed be a price to pay for this madness. We have stocked up a little on a few things like tinned food, tea, coffee and sugar in case of emergency, but I sincerely hope Westminster takes control away from Theresa May and steers us away from disaster.

My whole life has been held hostage to this horrendous waiting game

Chispa, 64, Edinburgh, retired, EU citizen living in the UK

Chispa.
Chispa.

My whole life for the last two years has been held hostage to this horrendous waiting game of uncertainty that Brexit has become. When I retired, after over 30 years working in education, just after the referendum, my plan was to enjoy my retirement with my husband back in Spain with my family. However, unsure what the situation will bring, and with my husband in poor health, the risk of losing access to health services over there has meant a postponement to our plans.

Im Spanish but my taxes have always been paid in the UK. Will I have access to health services? My husband is Scottish will his pension be available in Spain without penalties? What about mine? I need to know what is going to happen before I can make such plans. We are not so affluent as to face all the uncertainties without worry and anxiety, sadly. My greatest fear is a no-deal Brexit and my only hope is of revoking article 50.

My son is worried he wont be able to see his cousins and grandparents

Rich, 42, , Calais, British IT workermarried to a French national

Rich
Rich Thomas.

I dont know whats going to happen. Im trying to shelter my eldest son, who is eight, from what is going on because hes already upset that England is leaving Europe. Hes worried he wont be able to see his cousins and grandparents (who all live in Kent) so easily.

Theres regular banter at work about whats happening in Brexit. My French colleagues all think its funny but tragic, and I think they expected the UK to handle things better. My situation means Im not too worried about my status in France after Brexit, even with a no deal. Ive been married to a French national since 2007, Ive lived, worked and paid taxes in France since 2006 and Im father to two French (and technically, British) boys. Unless Brexit is cancelled I will need to formalise my status in France, either through nationality or a carte de sjour. France is the only EU country that I am aware of that doesnt need you to register with the local government office in order to live and work in the country, so up until now Ive not been registered in any way.

On a much more immediate level, Im relieved that the exit date was pushed back, but the new date puts into doubt my boys visit to stay with their grandparents later in April. Every time Brexit is pushed back, it impacts on the next trip across the Channel.

You cant run a business with so much uncertainty

Andrea, 31, Dorset, tour operator

Andrea.
Andrea.

We run a small tour operator that organises tours around Europe but have had to cancel various dates in recent weeks due to delays in the Brexit process. We dont know if we would be covered by our insurance; if the drivers licenses will be valid; if the coaches are able to run in Europe. Tours are run on a tight schedule, and any delay of more than two hours in Folkestone would be a disaster for an itinerary. You cant run a business with so much uncertainty. Also, most of our overheads are paid in euros, and a volatile pound has not helped during these last three years. Many others in the tourism industry are incredibly anxious.

On a more personal level, my parents are here as non-EEA family members of an EU national, but their future is uncertain and that is very stressful for them at their age. It is very stressful at their age to not know what the future holds for you, especially when you have absolutely no power over it. We have decided to take the plunge and move to Europe and feel lucky we have an online business and can be a bit nomadic, but Brexit uncertainty has definitely pushed us to make the step much earlier than planned. As for my parents, we have no idea what to do. We are applying for pre-settled status before the Brexit date whenever that is and will later on see what happens. Even immigration advisors are as confused as the public about the future status of so many people in this country.

We are scared that we may be forced to live apart

Natalie Vanderpool, 29, Barcelona, small business-owner, US spouse of a British citizen living in Spain

Natalie
Natalie Vanderpool.

After 10 years living in Spain my partner and I have decided to exercise our EU free movement rights with the Surinder Singh route. We have sold our business and are almost at the end of the process of moving to Scotland.

This should allow me to obtain an EEA family permit, but the UK visa and immigration service seems to have removed all appointments from its Madrid office because of the uncertainty with Brexit, so weve been stopped from completing the process and returning to the UK. We arent the only people in this situation and it could tear families apart. We are scared that we may be forced to live apart, with one of us having to stay in Spain while the other moves back to the UK to work and support both of us. This is all as a result of the governments inability to clarify key issues for all UK citizens and their families. With the Windrush scandal fresh in our minds, you would think that ensuring citizens and their families were not forgotten about would be a priority.

I feel confused, angry and scared

Veronika Loessl, 35, bookseller and academic, German citizen living in the UK

Reader
Veronika Loessl.

Even though I was born in Germany, I feel like a dual citizen. I have spent around 10 years in the UK and I do not understand the benefits of leaving the European Union. I only see the positives of the EU.

I feel confused, angry and scared. And there is nothing I can do. I just bought a house/shop in Southend-on-Sea and I was planning on opening my own little secondhand bookshop, but Im not currently living in the UK because I wanted to save money on rent while my house/shop was being renovated. If there is a no deal I would not be able to move so quickly to the UK and I dont know if I will have the same rights as other EU citizens living in the UK, despite having just invested a great deal of money and time in this venture. Im really scared. I can only hope we (the UK) will stop this process or obtain a long extension. If we have to leave, then I hope for the Norway model.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/06/my-brexit-nightmare-readers-on-how-the-uncertainty-is-affecting-their-lives