Founder of In Limbo Project and editor of both In Limbo books Elena Remigi is interviewed by Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) news reporter Briar Stewart in Maidenhead on Monday 14th January 2019.
The day before the historic unprecedented defeat by 230 votes of PM May’s “withdrawal” bill in the House of Commons.
Suhana Meharchand (CBC news anchor): “CBC’s Briar Stewart has been out talking to the general public. Briar is live in May’s home riding of Maidenhead. Great place to be on this eve of the vote. Briar what are people saying there?”
Briar: “Well there are a lot of different opinions. This is an area that did vote to Remain in the UK [ed: EU] but that being said it is still really divided. It seems that the only thing people can mostly agree on is that the prime minister finds herself in a very difficult spot.
Now I am joined now by Elena Remigi. She lives in Maidenhead. She is also an author. She wrote a book called In Limbo. It was really about gathering all the different experiences of EU citizens that are living in the UK and what brexit means to them. Elena is originally from Italy but she mentioned that she did spend some time in Saskatoon Canada. So there is a connection there as well. So in talking to all these EU citizens that live here what did you hear about what their concerns are given all the uncertainty about what brexit could mean?”
Elena: “Yes, EU citizens have found themselves in a very odd situation after the referendum. We were told we could stay that we were welcome and all of a sudden our rights have not been guaranteed for more than two and a half years. So, of course, this prolonged uncertainty has caused people to feel anxious and worried about the future. It is impossible to plan in many cases. For old people that have to apply this is a concern: “Will I be able to stay?“, “Will I not?“, “Where will I go?“.
Everybody will have to apply and as we know an application in order to stay can always be turned down.
So this is really what I have learned: is that certainly this uncertainty has not worked for many of us. It is also true that many academics, scientists, are thinking of perhaps leaving the country due to this.”
Briar: “Now, as I mentioned: you live in Maidenhead and you have been in the UK for 13 years. How would you describe how the government is handling the whole issue of brexit over the last two years?”
Elena: “I think it is leaving the country more and more divided because when Teresa May said: “brexit means brexit” she had forgotten about the other 16 million people who had not voted for it. You know that EU citizens were not allowed a vote. Of course this means that being a divided nation we don’t know which direction things will go. There will be a lot of healing that needs to be made. I think it is important that people have a say on this deal. Now that we know the terms of this deal. We decide whether it is a good deal for the country or not.”
Briar: “The vote is obviously tomorrow night and there is a lot of discussion about how it is likely to be voted down and then the whole question becomes: “What happens next?”.”
Briar: “What would you like to see? For EU citizens living here: what would be the ideal scenario?”
Elena: “The ideal scenario would have been to Remain. We had the right to live and work here as the Brits had in the other 27 EU countries. Now this Freedom of Movement with brexit will cease to exist. So, for EU citizens it is important that if we stay we will be able to maintain all our existing rights. The worst case scenario is a “No Deal” because in that case our rights will be watered down even further but even if, let’s say, this agreement goes through our rights won’t be fully guaranteed. “Settled Status” which is what Britain wants us to do. We have to apply to ask whether we can stay. It is not a solution for everyone. So, it remains a big concern. Particularly for the most vulnerable ones or the elderly. All these categories who may struggle to be able to stay.”
Briar: “Now I know that you are going to be down at parliament tomorrow likely with hundreds of other people. So I may see you down there because we will be reporting live from there for most of the day tomorrow. And really as I mentioned the vote is tomorrow night. The question now is not so much about will it pass or will it be defeated but it is really “How much is it going to be defeated by?” and is there anything that the government is going to be able to salvage? Teresa May is going to have a very tall challenge in front of her because if it is voted down tomorrow she has 3 days to come back to parliament with a “plan B” and at the same time you have, as you mentioned Suhana, other groups of MPs that are trying to wrestle control of parliament and basically steer the whole brexit conversation. So, there really is so much just up in the air still at this point.”
Suhana: “And Briar, I just want to let our viewers know: tomorrow – big day on CBC news network. Two o’clock Eastern is when that vote goes. It will be seven o’clock your time in London. What is your plan for keeping our viewers informed tomorrow?”
Briar: “Well we will be down there throughout the entire day. So from very early in the morning Canada time at 6 AM we will start reporting live. Eastern time in Toronto. And we will be there throughout the day past the vote because not only is the vote which will be at 7 PM tomorrow local time here. Not only is that something everybody is watching for but what happens afterwards because we have heard that the Labour leader could be calling a motion of No Confidence as early as tomorrow night. So there is not a good indication yet of just how things are going to progress tomorrow evening but we will be there covering it all.”
Suhana: “Alright thanks for that Briar. CBC’s Briar Stewart in Maidenhead England.”