Imagine… Imagine you left your native country because you wanted to explore your neighbouring world and embrace the European dream. Imagine you truly believed that the European Union was your home and that, as well as being a citizen of the country you were born in, you were also a citizen of Europe. Imagine you fell deeply in love with your new country. Imagine you built a life there, married, had children, a career, started a business… You felt happy and totally integrated. You were at home.
Then one day, your new country decides to vote to leave the European Union, which means that all the rules you have built your life on are going to change. One morning, after years and even decades, you suddenly feel unwelcome, unwanted, betrayed. Your certainties, your life and your security are gone. Your sense of identity too. Through no fault of your own, you are stuck in a painful limbo.
This is what has happened since the Brexit Referendum in June 2016 to the EU citizens who have made their life in the UK. This book of testimonies is their voice, their stories from Limbo, haunted by the poignant question: where is home?
The ‘IN LIMBO’ project originated when ELENA REMIGI, an Italian interpreter resident in Britain, felt that the numerous EU voices expressing their distress since the Brexit Referendum would have a much more powerful impact if they were gathered together as a collective testimony. She started a Facebook group in March 2017, called ‘OUR BREXIT TESTIMONIES’, with the help of TIM SYKES, a British editor, and VERONIQUE MARTIN, a French author and academic married to a Brit and a UK resident for thirty years. They were helped in their work by a tireless team of dedicated moderators.
The candid testimonies that were gathered between March and April 2017 show the many ways in which real lives have been affected by the outcome of the Referendum, illustrating the practical difficulties and the profound emotional stress that have been imposed on many people by this new political situation.
This not-for-profit collection is aimed at everybody who is interested in or needs to gain an insight into the true experiences of EU citizens in the UK: members of the public, British family members of EU citizens, journalists and decision-makers in both British and European politics. We hope it will inform but also help fight against discrimination and prejudice by touching hearts and opening minds. People are people wherever they come from, and home is not so much the place where you were born as the place with which you have fallen in love.
During the long hours we spent poring over these compelling human stories, we became aware that a haunting leitmotiv was appearing again and again through the deep uncertainty, the painful state of limbo, experienced by their authors. That powerful leitmotif was the dual question of identity and belonging so essential to us all: who am I and where is home?
NB: We have endeavoured to include as many voices as possible. Nevertheless, it has sadly not been feasible to incorporate into the book all of the testimonies. Those that couldn’t be included will be published in our associated blog, whose aim is to go on where the book had to stop: www.ourbrexitblog.eu