The life after Brexit – what next for the EU migrants?

July 3, 2016 12:00 AM

So…The British people have voted. It was close however the message is clear - 'we want our country back, we want to control our borders, we will be better off outside the EU'.

I found out about the result on sunny morning in Rome where I was attending an interesting meeting of people who are involved in public and civic life. As you can imagine, I was inundated with questions from people from Italy, Spain, Argentina, Slovenia or even South Korea.

As an EU migrant, someone who doesn't hold the British citizenship, I have been part of the referendum debate for quite some time. I couldn't vote, but I was very keen to get the reasons behind staying across.

But now, let's put aside the economical argument, GDP, trade, jobs, opportunities to live, work and study freely in any of the European countries. That's a whole other story.

What worries me the most are divisions created by the EU referendum. I lived in number of European countries but I don't remember seeing anything like this. Hatred, complete lack of ability to have a proper and mature debate on issues which affect us all: globalization, migration, refugee crisis.

I am worried that many EU citizens, who come here for good reasons will be seen as "`intruders" in all walks of life just because of where we come from and irrespective of what we bring.

In my case, as well as in the case of other EU nationals, living in the UK enabled me to improve my life chances and my language skills. It has also helped me to break down various barriers and recognise the importance of diversity. Settling in the UK, trying to be part of the local community, encouraged me to get to know other cultures and people of other faith groups. The whole experience has broadened my horizons and it made me more tolerant and rounded person.

The result of the referendum is of course not the end of the world but I am disappointed. What's next? Will we have to start paying for NHS treatment or schooling for our kids? Will my UK-born kids get a rough deal in life?

It is difficult to predict how it would affect my long-term future and the future of many other EU migrants however I know that it could be the end of the 'united European'. I am sad that the British voters decided to 'walk away' from a project which overall produced a lot of positive outcomes. I also think that the UK's ability to demonstrate modern and forward thinking society where people from all sorts of walks of life are treated the same, may be also affected.

I am upset that liberal Britain which cherishes every opportunity to build bridges and fosters integration has decided, in one way or another, to take a step back. I am worried that Britain has chosen the 'isolation path'. I was always felt that we are stronger if we stay together. I always believed that you are weaker if you are on your own.

Re - building trust, so damaged during this campaign, may take a lot of time. I hope it won't affect building the cohesive society which I want to be part of.