Love across Borders, Pt 2

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted on the blog. Far from having lost interest in campaigning, I have tried to get out onto the streets and engage the public wherever I can, leaving me with less time to write. Last week, the Our Future, Our Choice bus visited Manchester University and provided a glimmer of hope in times that have, at times, felt incredibly dark. The overwhelming feeling was that students in Manchester want a People’s Vote. They are politically engaged, smart and care about their futures.

One story I hear again and again when I am campaigning is that people are scared that they no longer will be able to be in the same place as their loved ones.

Now EU citizens in Britain are being forced to register and apply for ‘Settled Status’ . This is far from a straightforward process. People have to provide 
extensive documentation. They are being forced to sign over their personal 
data and the app used by the Home Office for this process is horribly error-prone, leaving many feeling anxious and unsure if they will be able to remain in their homes and communities. If you’re on twitter and want to find out more, follow @InLimboBrexit.

Today’s dispatch from Brexit Britain comes from my friend Josh. He lives in Macclesfield with his cat Tom and is campaigning for a People’s Vote. Josh’s wonderful girlfriend Julia is French and lives in Strasbourg. 

They are both finding the uncertainty over Brexit and not knowing how their futures together will look very difficult to cope with.

Josh’s story

Today I woke up to the rather crude but nonetheless amusing post on Instagram: ‘’ Roses are red, Diamonds are small, 43 days ‘til Brexit fucks us all ‘’

After a quick laugh, I realised the all too serious message in this post:  There are 43 [now 37] days till Brexit and we are still none the wiser what situation we will leave under. Will there be a deal, and if so what sort of a deal. Will it be no deal or will there be, as I really do hope, a delay and a People’s Vote to put right all the wrongs of the past two years.

For me the question of whether to leave or remain was easy. I work for a German company and my girlfriend is French, I have Norwegian and German heritage and travel all around Europe for my job. I saw the benefits that European Union money brought to Manchester and the benefits that the free trade area brought to my company. Therefore, it was simple enough for me to cross the Remain box on June 23rd 2016 and go on my merry little way, hoping that everything would go back to normal and we would all leave this Leave nonsense in the past. How wrong I was ….

Unlike a lot of posts, news articles and blogs around Brexit I don’t want to quote fact and figures. Instead I’m going to talk about feelings.  I’m sure hundreds of thousands of British people and EU nationals living in the UK are worried not only about what Brexit will do to their wallets, but also their hearts.  

I have a French girlfriend, Julia. We met three years ago in a pub in my hometown. After a few dates and an in-depth discussion on how many words the English have for drunkenness, we became boyfriend and girlfriend. When Julia’s time finished at the school she was working at, she elected to stay for love and postpone her studies and find a job in the UK. Our relationship blossomed and remains strong, so strong that in September 2018 she moved back to France to complete her Masters (at a fraction of the cost that it would be in the UK – thanks Nick Clegg + the Tories) with a firm commitment to make long distance work and be stronger for it. 6 months later our relationship remains strong and with the easy and cheapness of European travel we have managed to see it every other weekend and in holidays.

European Lovebirds

However, all this is now threatened by Brexit. As with everything in our relationship, we have tried to talk about what Brexit will mean for us. However, as with every question around Brexit, we have run into the barrier of ‘uncertainty’. We don’t yet know whether we will have a deal or a no deal or have a soft or hard Brexit.  Therefore, we are forced to live with constant anxiety about something neither of us can control. Yet it can genuinely affect something that is so difficult to find and so precious to us: – the love we have for each other.

I’m sure I’m not alone with these feelings. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this country with European girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, mums, dads, grandparents and friends. They are now facing the prospect of either signing up to some awful list that questions why they should be here or have to leave all together.

Furthermore, I don’t think its fair that these people, more to the point, I don’t think it’s fair these professionals – urgently needed doctors, nurses, maids, cooks, cleaners, engineers, construction workers – should be scapegoated for the problems of this country. The government says we must take back control of our borders, completely ignoring all the essential skills that this country lacks, and these people bring. The reason they do this is simple – It’s because it’s so easy to do. It’s all too easy to blame Europe rather making difficult choices on housing or elderly care or the NHS.

I believe that if the government won’t make these difficult choices on their own. Therefore we have stand up and do the hard thing of convincing them.  We have to also speak to Leave voters and convince them that Brexit won’t be good for their pockets, careers and will make it harder for people like me to be together with the person that they love. Together, we have to tell our government that we believe it is better to stay in the European Union.

I believe the only viable option to do this is by campaigning for a People’s Vote. A People’s Vote that says Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit. So, I ask you, if you’ve been bothered enough to read this all the way to bottom, to say, ‘yes I do want to stay in’ and more importantly do something about it!

If you want to get active for a People’s Vote, join the Our Future, Our Choice campaign and For Our Future’s Sake campaigns. Both are campaigning for a People’s Vote, are aimed at young people and need volunteers!

The Put It To The People : People’s Vote March is taking place on 23rd March in London. Make sure you attend and bring your best placards! 

There are coaches going from Manchester – book your space
here. It’s £30 with £20 back on the day if you provide valid student ID.

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