Brexit review by European expats in London

Eight years ago, the British voted by almost 52% to leave the European Union. Four years later, on January 31, 2020, Brexit was effective. The daily life The Country asked to several Europeans who have been living in London for a long time how they experienced this moment and what has changed since then. For them, “nothing will ever be the same again”, After what the Spanish newspaper describes as “the biggest setback in the history of the European project”.

Daniel Juliá, a 54-year-old Spanish entrepreneur who has lived in the UK for 30 years, complains about customs fees, increased red tape and the difficulty of finding staff. “Now, to bring in an Italian or Spanish chef, you first have to pay around 30,000 pounds (around 35,500 euros),” he explains, before adding that “The UK has shot itself in the foot”.

Matteo Dughiero is a 34-year-old Italian IT specialist. He deplores above all the xenophobia that made Brexit possible. However, he chose to stay in the country, for the professional prospects it offered him. He is happy that his daughter is growing up in Norway, in her mother’s country, because the system there is more protective:

“Here, if everything goes well for you, as for me, you have no problems: I have private health care and good services. But I want her to grow up in a place where, if she does not succeed in what she undertakes, it will not be so bad. A place where there is a public infrastructure, a network of services to take care of her. A network that everyone pays for with their taxes.”

Georgios (a pseudonym, at his request), a forty-something from Cyprus, has also observed the rise in anti-immigration and anti-foreign sentiment. He points out the hypocrisy of it when he notes that hospitals, for example, could not function without them.

Ulises (not his real name) is a Spaniard who has lived in the country for twenty years, where he has been leading artificial intelligence projects for multinationals. He takes note of the end of the “British promise of multiculturalism” and of“the privatization of many services”. “The beauty of London’s famous parks is that they are there for everyone. When they are privatized, the gardens lose their soul”, he confides.

Resigned, he bitterly admits: “Being European in a country that doesn’t want to be makes you think that this relationship is just an economic transaction. They granted me permanent residency without any problem, because I pay a lot of taxes. That was the only reason. So it’s sad to say, but I don’t feel any loyalty to this country anymore.”

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