LEFT THE UK TO STAY IN EUROPE
On 31 of January Britain left the European Union, the transition period for UK ends on 31 of December 2020. What do British citizens think about Brexit and how it influences their life? We asked Lewis Darwin, a man from Liverpool who 3 months ago decide to move to Czech Republic to remain an EU citizen.
Can you please tell us about the history of referendum(s) in the UK?
The UK was one of the few countries to join EU with a quite a large proportion of people not wanting to join initially. Leaving the European Union has always been a whisper behind closed doors in British parliament during a very long time. It’s been brought up a couple of times, but usually it’s been quelled quickly. In 2016 a conservative party decided to make it a point of their election, making a Brexit referendum. They won the election and decided that it would be the best for people of the United Kingdom to have one.
What were the main arguments of politicians for and against Brexit?
The European Union has given a lot of funding throughout its live to poorer areas of the United Kingdom such as the North-West and North-East regions, especially places like Northern Ireland which has historically been ignored by the more aristocratic Southern English politicians. The argument is that the EU gives a lot of protection to these areas and the people who live in them. However, the other argument is that it also impedes on British rule. British Parliament and Prime Minister has less power on the British subjects than the EU does.
Did the attitude of people who for leaving he EU change after the referendum?
I think people on both sides has switched multiple times after the referendum happened. The people who decided to leave ended up decided that the outcome isn’t worth it. And a lot of people who voted to remain decided that since we have voted to leave, we should be sticking to leave.
Do you think other countries might get inspired by Britain and decide to also leave the European Union?
I really hope not. But for sure there is a possibility of that happening.
How did you feel on the referendum day?
Sad and depressed.
Did you vote?
No, I couldn’t vote, I was 3 weeks too young to vote. And I really wasn’t happy about it. Just a few months before Scotland has their own referendum in the United Kingdom and 16-year olds were allowed to vote, however in England and Welsch law you have to be 18 to vote.
How did Brexit influence your life so far?
I feel like it’s the talking point with anyone who meets me, especially from the United Kingdom. It’s everywhere now. For the last 4 years that’s the only thing I’ve talked about inside of a pub. I think everyone is sick of it, that why people want it to happen. So, we can just stop talking about it.
You left the UK and now you live in Czech Republic. Did Brexit influence your decision to move?
Definitely. I wanted to come before Brexit happens and have enough time to gain temporary residency and try to remain an EU citizen. And as far as EU is concerned, now I’m a third party national, so I’ve applied for temporary residency and I’m awaiting the Czech Government’s response. And as long as I remain a resident in a Czech Republic, I can remain an EU citizen. If I did that for three years, I can become a full EU citizen.
What do you think is going to change for Britain during next few years? How the European attitude towards Britain will affect the population of Britain?
I think a lot I going to change, especially with the current situation. Not only do we have Brexit, but we also have a possible economic downturn period and coronavirus. So even if the UK could do all of it on its own like they said, I don’t think it’s possible anymore. A lot of British culture is based on Polish and Czech immigrants. There is a lot of Hungarian restaurants in the UK, it would be sad to see those go. I hope Britain will not become xenophobic at the end. I hope the opposite happens and we become more Eurocentric.
How do you feel about this situation? Are you happy about Brexit?
I’m not happy at all. Since the vote to leave the EU happened, I feel that we’ve lost a big part of what makes the UK such a diverse, interesting and forward-thinking country. Now that it could become much more difficult to live in the UK as a European national, I feel as if we have somehow justified the far right racist’s and xenophobes that make up a very small part of our country but have too loud a voice. There’s a lot of loosely thought out nationalism that I believe has been talked about more and more since the referendum. The Idea of splitting the UK into separate nations has, in my opinion, become a more prevalent idea in people’s minds and in their conversations. The thought of being an English citizen and nothing more, saddens me beyond words. I feel that the cultural diversity the UK has is by far the proudest thing about our nation and to lose that would be an insult for all of those who worked so hard to achieve it.