(Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Expats Facebook page. It is reposted here with the permission of the author. Should the United Kingdom vote to exit the European Union, English expats likely would lose their long-term residence status in E.U. companies. )
By LAURA PLESTED KAYE
As I write this, the polls suggest that around 13 percent of UK voters are undecided as to which way they will vote in the upcoming referendum on European Union membership.
The “leave” and “remain” votes are nail-bitingly close and, at this point, the outcome looks too close to call. This post is a bit of a stretch from my usual Facebook updates, which generally consist of the highlights reel of Kaye family life. However, my family is right at the heart of this issue, too.
You see, we are a family of immigrants; a family of Brits abroad, having lived the last few years in Germany. And whilst we are still true Brits at heart (we will ALWAYS support England over Germany in the football, and we will never wake up at 7 a.m. to reserve sun loungers), our son was born here, we pay taxes here, we spend (too much) money in the German economy. Germany is our home.
Whilst we can’t really predict exactly how long we’ll live here, we’ve definitely spent a lot of time imagining what our family’s future here might be like. We’ve found a kindergarten for our son, and thought about where he might go to school; we’ve talked about which area we might like to buy an apartment in should we ever make it on to the property ladder; we’ve even started the process of looking for an allotment plot and thought about what we’d like to grow there.
For us, the outcome of the EU referendum could have very real consequences. It could put one almighty spanner in the works when it comes to our future security here in the country where we have finally begun to feel settled. And we’re not alone. There are thousands of British families just like ours living all over the European Union, anxiously awaiting the outcome of Thursday’s vote, and considering what the consequences of a “leave” vote may be for their family.
Likewise, all over the UK, families of various European nationalities wonder where they will stand after we finish going to the polls on Thursday and tally up the votes. They are your work colleague, your daughter’s school friend, your midwife, your car mechanic, your greengrocer, members of your church, your local community volunteers, your neighbours. They pay UK taxes, they enrich our society and culture, and they will be stood right beside you cheering for the English, Northern Irish and Welsh football teams over the coming weeks (yes, I said weeks … I’m optimistic!)
There are countless economic, environmental, political, security, and socio-cultural reasons to remain in the EU.
No doubt you’ve been inundated with arguments from both campaigns along those lines over the last few months. Though, since you are still undecided, I thought I might take a bash at sharing our personal story with you, and how your vote could have very real consequences for families like mine, across the UK and all over Europe.
Whilst some might argue that a new bilateral deal of some sort will be negotiated with Germany, the same old argument stands: we have no idea what that deal would look like, and it almost certainly wouldn’t provide us with all the rights and benefits we as British EU citizens enjoy today. That’s a gamble that my family just cannot afford to take.
So I implore you … friends, family, and other fellow British citizens … when you go to place your vote on Thursday, we ask (beg) you to vote “remain.” Because though you have not yet decided whether or not that would be the best deal for our country, at least be sure that this is the best deal for your friend, and for her husband, and for their son (whom I am sure you are sick of seeing photos of – sorry ?) … as well as for your European work colleague, your daughter’s school friend, your midwife, your car mechanic, your greengrocer, members of your church, your local community volunteers, your neighbours.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story (essay). I hope that those of you who are undecided will take it into consideration. And for those of you who are already staunchly behind the remain campaign (for all of the reasons far more important than my family’s situation), I urge you to share your support for continued EU membership. Send your undecided parents that convincing article you read; tell your friends how remaining in the EU would benefit you, your family, your cause, your country; share this post.
Thanks again for your time. My Facebook page will now return to its regular programming.
The mother of an EU citizen
About the author: Laura Plested Kaye is 30 years old, from Merseyside, UK. She’s lived in Germany for about two and a half years after moving there for her husband’s work in the not-for-profit sector. She has a bachelor’s of arts in politics and a masters degree in Post-Conflict Recovery studies. She previously worked as a researcher in the development/humanitarian sector but is now a full-time mum.