Brexit, a migrant's take: 'None of us can afford to take anything for granted'

Migrants living in London have been thrown into a state of uncertainty by the EU referendum result

The shockwaves from Britain's Brexit vote continue to reverberate around the migrant community

Thursday, December 22, 2016

I came to London two years ago with the hope of building a bright future in the UK due to the lack of opportunities in Spain. Before coming to London I studied English language intensively for three years and I was fortunate to be chosen for a marketing internship in a creative translation agency. In time I reached the position of marketing manager after two years of hard work, a dream that maybe in Spain would not have been realised in such a short timeframe. So I have plenty to be thankful for.

Like everyone, I will be following post-Brexit developments closely. But personally I don't feel any uncertainty about my future in the UK. I believe that I have the support of my company and if the government tried to limit the number of foreigners in each company, I would continue to receive this support. Even if something goes wrong I think there would be other companies willing to take me on, based on the experience I have gained in this job.

But the experience of the other non-British nationals I know is far more varied. I organise events for Spanish and other EU nationals in London, and it's clear that people have a lot of concerns, crystallising around four key issues. These are as follows:

1. Economic uncertainty: caused by the drop in the pound and the rise in inflation. Although in the last month the pound has recovered a little there is still widespread discomfort, as many foreigners send regularly money to their families, return to their countries or simply go on vacation. Many people I know don't know what will happen to private pensions once Brexit is effective. If foreigners decide to transfer their pension to the EU, high rates of commission will be charged. Had the the UK decided to continue in the EU, they would not have needed to make this choice. With regard to inflation, goods have risen in value and are expected to continue rising early in 2017 at a faster rate than wages.

2. Political uncertainty: The UK's EU referendum has created uncertainty not just in Britain but across Europe. If you speak to migrants from Germany, France, Italy, Hungary and many other countries, you will know how worried they are about what is happening in their homeland. For many people this is a most unwelcome distraction - they might be settled and well-established in London, but what is happening to their families and communities back home?

3. Rights: Most of the European migrants I know maintain the hope that their country will reach an agreement with the UK Government which will guarantee their stay on British soil. The Western European countries house large numbers of British citizens, so it's highly likely that migrants from those countries will receive favourable treatment from the British Government. However the situation of Eastern European citizens appears less clear. 

4. Racism: Following the EU referendum the number of racist incidents reported by foreigners has increased. I sincerely believe that there has always been racism in the UK, the same as in any other country. But with this kind of news going viral on social media all the time, it's bound to make people concerned.

As I say, I'm lucky enough to have a good job here but I know not everyone is in the same situation as me. Hopefully the UK can do a deal with the EU that ensures that, as migrants working in London and the rest of Britain, our rights are unchanged. Personally, I think that is what will happen. But after all that's happened this year, no-one is taking anything for granted.

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