As an American, I can’t emphasized how gobsmacked I am by the Brexit vote.
From the expat perspective, I just thought Brits – especially young Brits – would understand what leaving would mean in the real world, especially for careers. Suddenly, it’s likely the 27 European Union countries where they once worked and traveled freely will be out of bounds. Brits could find it much more difficult to land international careers in business centers such as Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Helsinki, Dublin, Luxembourg City and Prague.
A London purged of European talent would be the only realistic option for a generation of promising Brits.
All so Boris Johnson could declare “Independence Day.”
We posted our look at what might be in the future for all 2.3 million British expats living across Europe, then we reposted it on several expat websites. The response was like nothing we’ve seen in our 100-plus days.
Here’s a small sample of what you said on social media. (Last names have been excluded for privacy. And thank you, Frankfurt Expats, for allowing Dispatches to post.
From our original post:
The real Brexit migrant issue: What happens to millions of British expats across Europe? -… I have to say, this is development I never took seriously. When I first started reading in 2014 about the United Kingdom’s referendum on its European Union…
Myra: Very sad with the outcome! As a dual citizen Brit/American living in Frankfurt, I cannot even begin to wrap my head around this. I am disgusted and deeply saddened.
Paul: As A Brit working in Germany for 2 years, I work for a US Employer. Will this mean that many UK employees of the UK government that work through the “Local National” European loophole mean they will not be able to renew contracts? The UK citizens that work as local nationals share a common language and fill skills gaps. This would end.
Zlatko:I am shocked and saddened that people in England are so short-sighted
THESE ARE THE REPLIES TO ZLATKO
Angharad: Not just England…the whole of the U.K. Voted in the referendum (as an aside NI and Scotland overall had a remain vote, England and Wales overall voted to leave)
Zlatko:That’s what I meant
Angharad: Sorry to be pedantic but England and the UK are not one and the same thing … .but seeing as there may not be a UK in the near future, maybe it’s not important anymore!
Zlatko: I feel that’s what will happen. The once mighty empire will crumble even further
Angharad:I should probably explain I’m Welsh so I’m a bit sensitive to the whole country being called England 😉
Angharad: Yes it’s a distinct possibility
Zlatko: I didn’t mean it that way. I am quite well aware of all that, coming from Canada. England, except for London, voted overwhelmingly to leave. Wales doesn’t have such a large population. Sorry if you misunderstood me
Angharad: Yes apologies, looks like I did misunderstand! It’s that chip on my shoulder 😉
Angharad: Feeling very sad today. I’m British and have lived and worked in Germany for 16 years – meaning I couldn’t vote – and just can’t believe the result. It’s going to have such a negative effect on so many things, financially, geo-politically and culturally that I believe many many people had no idea of. It’s going to be a turbulent few months and years for the UK.
Zlatko:It’s sad. Instead of uniting and working problems out the UK is dividing itself.
Myra:I am originally from London and lived in Germany for 30 years. I am disabled and unable to work. UK does not know the consequences for the outcome, especially for the new generation.
Brendan: As an Australian, this means HR managers will no longer look at my CV against that of a Brit and say “Let’s get the Brit, we don’t need to worry about visas with him/her.” Now it’ll be purely about skills and experience instead of the laziness of HR managers. The scales have evened up a lot for native English speaking non-EU citizens when previously we would have almost always been beaten out by a Brit out of HR’s pure avoidance of forms.
EXCERPTS FROM THE GLOBAL MEDIA:
TIME: Brexit Has British Expats Worried—and Very Angry
On Friday, expats in Europe say they awoke with a sick feeling in their stomach—and a sense that all the decisions over their futures would now change significantly. There are countless practical considerations – over pensions, passports, health care and other issues—much of which is still unknown. British expats said an immediate worry was whether they would maintain the right to work in the other 27 E.U. countries, or whether they can continue to be able to move freely across the continent on non-E.U. British passports.
These politicians — men and women, to be sure — are young enough not to have experienced world war, but they are old enough to idealize the pre-1989 era and a simpler, pre-globalization world. At the same time, they are obviously too sclerotic to imagine how democratic institutions can adjust to the new realities. With their aggressive posturing, these Nigel Farages, Marine Le Pens, Geerts Wilderses and Donald J. Trumps are driving the debate — and possibly driving the West off a cliff.
“It’s a victory for ordinary, decent people who have taken on the establishment,” declared Nigel Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party. Rubbish. It was a victory for people who have neither the guts nor the imagination to take on the downsides of globalization.
Among the many communities gobsmacked by Thursday night’s voting results is UK scientists — who depend heavily on EU membership for research funding, collaboration, and recruitment of top talent. Their access to Europe’s large pool of research funding is now at stake, as is their ability to share knowledge across borders.
When Emma Low, a British child-care worker living in Hamburg, woke to the news Friday of the U.K. vote to exit the European Union, she immediately began to fret. “Does that mean I’m not allowed to work here any more?” she asked her husband, Darren, who is a Scottish engineer. The couple, who have been living in Germany for more than two years, haven’t lived in the country long enough to be naturalized. “We just don’t know what will happen now,” said Mr. Low.
The Guardian: Brexit won’t shield Britain from the horror of a disintegrating EU, by Yanis Varoufakis
Leave won because too many British voters identified the EU with authoritarianism, irrationality and contempt for parliamentary democracy while too few believed those of us who claimed that another EU was possible.
Citizens of non-EU and non-European Free Trade Association countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) need to have a guaranteed work contract from an employer as well as the appropriate work visa before entering the non-EU Switzerland. When Britain leaves the EU, Brits will find themselves in this group. As a comparison, citizens from the EU and EFTA countries are generally allowed to come to non-EU Switzerland for three months while they look for work (this can be extended for another six months).