I have lived in France for four years, I moved here with my husband from the UK a matter of months before the Brexit referendum.

We were horrified at the result.

Since then, initially we hoped against hope that it wouldn’t happen, but became increasingly worried and anxious about the situation. All we heard for years was that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, not a thought for the half of the population who voted remain, our opinions were deemed ‘unpatriotic’.

We went through the process of applying for a temporary Carte de Séjour, it was very stressful, we are worried that when we have to apply again we will not satisfy the income requirements. And it dawned on us very early on that the UK government didn’t care about us at all, we were never mentioned or given any support.

 We watched with shock and horror the UK becoming increasingly xenophobic and cruel, we watched the devastating impact of austerity being blamed on the EU, we watched as the media became even more racist and right-wing. And we despaired.

A close friend, who I cannot bring myself to talk to any more, posted the most shocking Brexit propaganda on her Facebook page, including a shared post saying that remainers should be tried for treason….

What shocks me profoundly is how so easily people have been taken in, that in the face of massive homelessness, cuts to essential services, cuts to the NHS, the rise in food banks, devastating effect of Universal Credit etc etc, they still chose to vote for Boris Johnson because he said he would ‘get Brexit done’.

I have a very deep profound sadness about what the UK has become, I feel ashamed at the lack of empathy and the cruelty towards immigrants, and I feel betrayed by my government and by those who voted for Boris Johnson’s horrendous politics.

I worry for the future of family and friends in the UK, and for our future here.  The continuing anxiety and uncertainty of the last four years has adversely affected my mental health, and blighted what was to have been a positive fresh start in our life.  

Our French neighbours and friends have been nothing but supportive of us, and it shames me to hear that this kindness is not being reciprocated for the Europeans in the UK.  The day the UK left the EU was incredibly sad, it felt like we were in mourning.

 I am hoping against hope that we will rejoin at some point.

© Louise Tennyson, British, in France since 2016

First published July 2020

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