EU citizens leaving the UK because of Brexit are not isolated incidents, a campaign group has warned.
Elena Remigi, of the In Limbo Project which collects EU citizens stories after Brexit, reacted to a series of cases exposed by The London Economic, which reveal the reasons why European nationals have left the UK after Brexit, and even long before.
She said: “These stories aren’t isolated cases: the number of EU citizens who decided to leave Britain because of Brexit is high, particularly during the pandemic.”
Her reaction comes after TLE revealed in August last year that a “sizeable proportion” of EU citizens intend to leave the UK in the near future because of Brexit. Researchers from the University of Strathclyde found 58.62 per cent of a survey’s respondents thought Brexit increased the likelihood of them leaving the UK.
‘Some have few regrets’
Remigi said many Europeans have moved back to the EU and “have few regrets”, such as university reader Stefan Jossa, who moved to London in 2007 and back to Italy in September last year.
After 14 years of dedication to his academic involvement in the UK, the top rank university figure decided to continue his career in his native Italy, where he was offered a higher, better-paid position.
“My salary is much more satisfactory now, due to the lower cost of living in Italy,” he told TLE, adding: “Of course, needless to say, weather and food are better in Rome than in London!”
But his decision to leave Britain was mainly prompted by a different reason – a growing feeling that the academic environment has been silently promoting the request to be ‘more British’ and ‘less European’ since Brexit.
Others can’t adapt in their countries of origin because UK was ‘home’
Meanwhile, a French woman who moved to the UK because “she admired England for its tolerance and open-mindedness” said Brexit prompted her to go back to France, where she feels unable to adapt.
Murielle Stentzel, 60, who lived in Britain for almost a decade, said she is experiencing grief and stress because of Brexit.
She told TLE she has become “very sick” and unable to work full-time as a result of her divorce with the UK – something which Remigi says is a struggle experienced by many who felt Britain was their “home” and returned to their countries of origin.
The EU campaigner also pointed out to the case of Mariann, an Eastern European woman who moved to her native Hungary in 2012, long before the 2016 EU referendum, saying some European nationals leave to “keep enjoying their freedom of movement and the benefits it brings”.
Eastern European left the UK in 2012, predicting Brexit
Despite having a PhD, Mariann, who is a university researcher, did not feel welcome even after she obtained her British citizenship in 2010. She nonetheless applied, because she predicted UK’s exit from the EU and wanted to feel her seven years in Britain were not in vain.
“Getting the citizenship did not change anything. I still felt that I was not welcome with my Hungarian accent and name.
“It was clear that whatever I achieve on a professional level, this would never change,” Mariann told TLE.
Remigi thinks that, whilst EU citizens have different experiences and reasons why they stayed in or left the UK post Brexit, there is a common denominator across the community.
She said: “Almost all of them will tell you that they have been hurt and disappointed by the rhetoric Brexit has brought with all its ramifications.
“Brexodus is a great loss for Britain, a loss of talent and a loss of people who contributed to make this place vibrant, diverse and unique.”