I turned 40 this year and this period feels like a crossroads in my life.
I was born in Canada of Dutch parents and moved to the UK when I was six in 1983. Except for four years spent in France between 1988 and 1992, I’ve lived here since then. The UK is effectively my home.
English has been my main language all my life even though my parents spoke to me and my two brothers in Dutch and still do so. With my brothers, though, I speak English. Unusual perhaps but that’s what we do.
I have dual Dutch-Canadian nationality and never thought about acquiring British nationality as there was no need. I would be treated on the same level as a British citizen due to EU law and thanks to my Canadian passport I could vote in general elections, as Canada is of course the Commonwealth and Commonwealth citizens have the vote.
But suddenly all that is up in the air: what until last June felt like my home can now feel like a very alien place. I try to avoid going too often on the Facebook Leavers’ forums for fear it would just raise my blood pressure too much. What really gets me is people saying “you’re a foreigner, it’s the British who will be most important and you’ll go to the back of the queue”. Whatever happened to any sense of fairness you wonder? I’ve lived here most of my life, why should I suddenly have fewer rights? What I really fear is being passed over for jobs in a post-Brexit Britain and that is a big thing for me. I also fear the government just making life difficult in general for anyone foreign. Are people slowly going to be pushed out? I don’t want to become British as my nationality is my identity and, even if I did, have you seen the eye-watering cost of naturalisation? Ouch! Big ouch!
The current government has been hijacked by the loony fringes and I fear where the future will take the UK and what effect it will have on the lives of me and many other EU citizens here. I’ve never had anyone be hostile to me for being foreign, at least not yet, but one day it may also happen to me…