‘Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura ché la diritta via era smarrita.’ (Dante Alighieri)
‘Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straight-forward pathway had been lost.’ (translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
When I was at school in the Midlands, I was invited to sleep over at a friend’s house, and in the morning her mother gave me an Italian coffee which struck me as a most wonderful thing. My friend was allowed time out to study Dante in the school library, I wanted to study Dante too. I was inspired.
That was over 50 years ago, so I’m more towards the end of my life than in the middle but that’s when you become grandparents, and your life changes.
Until 2016 I trusted my country, secure in the knowledge that it was still in some way my home. I believed in the system, sent my daughter there to study, supported throughout by my lovely husband, who felt at home too on our regular trips to the UK.
Europe has always been my home, since those school trips to France and Austria, and I never worried about my multiple identities till my country turned its back on me and I became one of Theresa May’s ‘citizens of nowhere’. Since then I’ve been working hard on my European identity, I’m one of the 5 million ‘nowhere’ people – EUinUK and UKinEU – and fortunately one of the lucky ones, I am an EU (Italian) citizen. In my area – Valpolicella – I’m working to raise awareness of the advantages of European citizenship, which so many people are unaware of until they come face to face with the loss of their rights to Freedom of Movement.
But even now, after all the demos, all the petitions, all the letters to MPs, I’m reeling to find that #labourlordsuk voted against my right to return to the UK with my Italian husband after 2022, unless he suddenly becomes very well off (money seems to be what you need to belong these days..)
[So here’s a short explanation of what happened – as short as possible, but it’s complicated.
WA = Withdrawal Agreement.
According to the terms of the WA we have until March 2022 for my husband to establish himself in the UK, should we decide that’s what we want to do. (we’re not sure we do at the moment). British in Europe organised an amendment to the Immigration Bill which made it to the House of Lords on 21 October 2020. The amendment would have removed the deadline for those of us who come under the terms of the WA. EU citizens in the UK have family reunification rights guaranteed under the WA for all their lives, but British in EU only have till March 2022. Lib Dems and a few Labour (and even a few Conservatives who understood the issue) voted for the amendment but Labour Lords voted against so that was the end of that. I have no idea why they did that, but as we no longer have a vote, I suppose they just didn’t care, and most of them probably didn’t understand the issues.”]
Here’s a photo of a broken breakwater I took the day I found out that the Labour Lords had abstained during the vote on the amendment, sinking any hope we had of being able to choose if and when to move back to the UK together to be near our wonderful family in the remaining years of our lives.
by Anne Parry, British, living in Italy
First published 24.10.2020
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