Isabelle’s Story

by Isabelle, France
I first came to the UK as an au-pair girl aged 19½ in 1986. At the time, I saw the UK as a member of the then Common Market and I never thought that the British might question their belonging to it. I could only see benefits as I do now about the present European Union even if it is not perfect. Anyway, I met my future British husband, went back to France briefly, went to Austria as an au-pair again, went back to France. I moved to England in 1992 and got married in 1995. I had several jobs in England and although I encountered some negative comments about my living in the UK as a French citizen, it was a minority and I put it down to ignorance and a lack of education. I have to say that my now ex-mother-in-law was not very happy about her son marrying a foreigner (!) again, I put it down to ignorance and a lack of education, they are Daily Fail readers after all, the type who hate the EU but are quite happy to find it on their doorstep but fail to see the irony… However, even though it annoyed me, I did not think it was anything to worry about as I assumed it was only a minority and I was not going to live with them, little did I know. Had I had a magic ball to see into the future, I certainly would not be in the UK now ! We came back to the UK in 2003. I am a divorcee now and find myself stuck in a country that does not want us. My son was born in Paris and has both nationalities, unfortunately he does not really get why I am so angry about brexit, he does not care about politics. I hope he understands one day what we are fighting for… I have had my share of stupid comments over the years : “Why are you here, you are taking a British person’s job” “When are you leaving ?” And so on… I used to think these were isolated incidents. The (advisory) referendum result left me in tears and in a state of shock. It has allowed the closed bigots / racists / xenophobes to come out in the open and feel legitimized. I do not know who to trust anymore. Some of my colleagues voted Leave for the most stupid reasons as did my ex-in-laws. I know that a lot of people voted Remain but I have to say I am fed up with their deafening silence and their British stiff upper lip attitude. I have been angry for over a year now, I have not had one full night of sleep since the referendum and the nasty xenophobic rhetoric from the Home Office and the government make me want to scream. All this is exhausting. This is not my home anymore, just where I happen to live. For now.

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