Brexit Means Exile

When I moved to Germany at the age of 22, it wasn't a conscious choice to leave my country forever. I simply followed my heart and dealt with the many difficulties of getting permission to stay.

In those 15 years in Germany I never took from the state. I contributed. I was proud to contribute via tax to the cost of reunification.

After 15 years I nearly returned to the UK, but a chance encounter took me to the Netherlands. Where, once again, I followed my heart. This time, thanks to freedom of movement, staying was not complicated. Finding work was also easy enough.

Life, however, is rarely uncomplicated for long. My partner has MS and cannot work. I, too, became ill and for the first time in my life was unable to work.

However now a shadow hangs over our modest life. Leaving the EU will have dire consequences for us. Under current proposals by the UK government, I will not be able to return to the UK with my Dutch spouse. If, due to my situation, I need to become a Dutch citizen I would have to relinquish my British citizenship under current Dutch law. So I would have to accept involuntary exile or divorce.

My story is not unique. Many families face similar hard choices. Most of them did not get a vote and now face losing so much.

For me freedom of movement really is a freedom. The thought of having it taken from me is abhorrent. I have committed no crime, no acts of terrorism, but the UK government seems intent on treating me as if I have.

I will never accept the result of the referendum as the democratic will of the people unless every single directly affected UK citizen and the 3 million (EU citizens in the UK) get a say, too.

Nicola James @nickynoo007

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