Letter: Brexit has meant I am now foremost known as a “migrant”

PUBLISHED: 13:45 04 June 2018

Anti Brexit demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament

Anti Brexit demonstrators protest outside the Houses of Parliament

PA Wire/PA Images

Maria Bates on how her identity has been changed because of Brexit. She no longer feels she is an individual.

My identity, or more specifically the way in which I am perceived by others, appears to have changed since Brexit. I used to be seen as a friend, colleague, teacher, neighbour, customer, volunteer – the list is long and reflects many aspects which made up the way in which I was perceived as an individual. The fact that I was born outside the UK was one of those facets, but by no means the defining one.

Now I am seen, first and foremost, as a “migrant”. I am no longer an individual, I belong into a category. People within that category appear, by definition, to all share certain negative characteristics or behaviours: We are health tourists and benefit scroungers, we take away jobs and housing from the indigenous population, we clog up the NHS, we are more likely to be criminals. All of these assumptions are based on emotions rather than hard fact and have been clearly disproven time and again, but that does not appear to change them one iota.

They lead to comments from, kindly, “will you return home now?” to, aggressively “f**k off back home”. And that’s the irony: I am home. My home is a small and friendly market town in Cumbria and it has been home for 35 years. Home is not where you were born, but where you put down roots and where you contribute to society, financially through taxes and so on, but above all through social participation.

I am afraid that whatever happens, a soft or a hard Brexit or no Brexit at all, this particular beast can no longer be put back into its cage. It will take a long time to return to the tolerant, open and welcoming Britain in which I put down my roots in 1983. And everybody in this country is much the worse for that.

Maria Bates

Kendal

• Send your letters for publication in The New European to letters@theneweuropean.co.uk

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £13

Become a Supporter

The New European is proud of its journalism and we hope you are proud of it too. We believe our voice is important - both in representing the pro-EU perspective and also to help rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Find out more

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Grassroots anti-Brexit campaigners are increasing the pressure on politicians ahead of the meaningful vote. Here is a list of the events organised across the UK in the coming weeks.

Newsletter Sign Up

The New European weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy