Lifestyle & Culture

Jackie Harding on Brexit: ‘I can hear Celine Dion singing as Titanic approaches the iceberg’

Write something about Brexit for Dispatches it was suggested. My response was, “I’m not sure you would be allowed to print what I think about Brexit!”

It’s like watching the movie “Titanic”: You know the iceberg is out there and the ship is sailing directly for it but no amount of screaming at Captain May seems to make her turn the ship around. Meanwhile Rose and Jack are cavorting around thinking they are on a journey to a better life!

Thankfully I have found a “door” to hang onto when the ship sinks as I live in the Netherland. The down-to-earth Dutch government have sought to reassure their British residents with promises that we will be “invited” to apply for a “definitive residency permit.” This helps dispel the fear that we will be displaced on the morning on 29 March and my sister has stopped clearing out the garden shed should we need somewhere to live last minute!

Not every country is as pragmatic as the Dutch as my kids, who live in Austria, are finding out. There the government seems to have more of a “wait & see how this all ends” approach which is, of course, unnerving. Germany, Italy and Spain seem to be some of the EU countries that have already tossed life jackets into the ocean alongside others, and some like Austria are hovering on the edge waiting to see if the ship actually sinks.

Brexit creates worries for all its citizens, not just those of us reliant on the governments of our European countries of residence.

We’ve all read the news coming out of the UK:

    • anxiety levels increased
    • job concerns as industry relocates
    • emergency supplies of drugs being stockpiled
    • British exporters concerned about transportation
    • contingency plans for delays at ports such as Dover and Calais
    • shockwaves across Europe
    • border issues in Ireland

The list goes on ….

Some reap what they sow

The town of Swindon voted 55 percent for Brexit and yet this week Honda announced they were pulling out, ostensibly not because of Brexit but I don’t think anyone really believes that. I’m sure the BMW and Mini workers are sleeping with one eye open now.

I recently chatted with a florist in the United Kingdom who was wondering what prices and supplies would be like after Brexit, given that the majority of her stock came from the Netherlands. Then she mentioned she had voted Leave ….

I just looked at her in amazement! Did she not think of these things before voting or was she one of the voters who didn’t really understand the consequences, who believed the lies being told to the electorate?

There are many Brits who are now regretting their vote and one can only dream of how a second referendum would look.  I regret the choice made for the future of our children and grandchildren and I feel mortified at how my country is now being perceived around the world.

As you can tell I’m not a fan of Brexit! Just writing this is making my heart race a little faster! I believe this is the worse decision we, as a nation, have ever made but I didn’t have a vote being one of the thousands who had lived outside the UK for over 15 years.

Of course we will survive Brexit, but at what cost? Right now the Brexit iceberg is so close to the Titanic we can hear the penguins squawking and still the captain ignores our calls of warning. Rose and Jack have no idea of the changes about to happen or just how cold that water is and I am wandering around looking for something that will float.

I hear Celine Dion singing in the distance and hope that somehow Captain May will turn the ship in time to avert disaster.

“Promise me you’ll survive. That you won’t give up, no matter what happens. No matter how hopeless,” I hear Jack calling to me as the iceberg looms up ahead.

About the author:

Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a longtime expat, she’s lived in Boston for 12 years, and in the Netherlands for the past eight years.

Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States for as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.

Writing for Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.

She also covered Women’s March Amsterdam.

She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.

You can read more of Jackie’s work for Dispatches here.

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