One of the most depressing consequences of the decision of 17.4 million to leave the EU will be the end of free movement. You know. The free movement that enables EU citizens to work wherever they want within the EU. Theresa May actually brags about the impending end of free movement, as if it’s a one day street. Worse still, the Labour Party, which is now controlled by fossils from the 1980s, agrees the end of free movement is nigh. Let’s hope the British people realise sooner rather than later that the end of free movement will affect them as much as any wretched foreigner because they are foreigners too.
I write about this often. Although I was not able to enjoy all the benefits of free movement myself, I loved the idea that my own children would one day be able to live, love, study, work and retire anywhere they liked in the EU. I love the fact that friends of mine have settled in various EU countries and many more want to enjoy a retirement in the sun. That’s no longer a given.
May talks about free movement as a bad thing. We need to stop these foreigners coming over here to work. They have “jumped the queue”. They will be replaced by British people who are too lazy to work. As our unemployment figures now solely include those who are sick and disabled as well as the unemployable, that will be interesting. When the hardworking Europeans are booted out of Britain, the terminally ill and chronically disabled can do the work. Bloody scroungers.
I was in Devon at the weekend on a golfing weekend. We were in a large hotel complex and the overwhelming majority of staff were not British. They worked their respective butts off, almost certainly for the minimum wage or not much more. Although they had different accents from us, they just looked like hard working people to me. But what do I know? I’m five-eighths ‘foreign’. Perhaps May thinks I should be deported given that no one in my family has ever signed on as unemployed and instead worked until they dropped, literally in some cases. The “jumped the queue” assertion from May is dog whistle racism. No one jumped any queue. The overwhelming majority, close to all, EU citizens who came here came here to work. But no more.
Instead, if you talk with a different accent, you are, in May’s words, a “citizen of nowhere”. She would have hated my mum who carried her Dutch accent until she died. I think she deserves a better epitaph than that.
I am by nature an internationalist. I am not interested in the colour, creed, religion (as long as they keep it to themselves) of human beings. I see the Polish worker as being no less valuable than an English worker. Those citizens of nowhere treat people and save lives in the NHS every single day. If you have a medical condition, are you really mad enough to concern yourself with the nationality of the surgeon?
That the Tories want to pull up the drawbridge should surprise no one. But Labour acknowledges the same. So called left wingers like Corbyn and McDonnell say free movement must end too. Britain first, they argue. Perhaps they should join Britain First. They’re closer than they might think.
There are many people who believed the end of free movement merely meant the end of free movement for Johnny Foreigner. Wrong. The end of free movement will affect those seeking to retire to Greece or Spain in the same way as it will affect those who want to come here from mainland Europe. Perhaps, we can persuade those pensioners to do the jobs the foreigners used to do?
There really wasn’t that much wrong with the EU before we decided to go it alone. It has helped keep the peace, it has driven up standards, it has given us rights, it has enabled us to live, love, work, study and retire anywhere we like in the EU. EU membership never stopped us being British, it never stopped us trading with the rest of the world, it never stopped us making our own laws, it never affected our sovereignty; it made our lives better. We were rule makers and decision takers. Soon we will be neither, out there alone in the big wide world, trying to trade with protectionist governments like the USA and China.
Freedom of movement is a two way street and soon it will be a no way street. The people who want to buy a villa in Greece but don’t want Greek people to live, love, work study and even retire in the UK will suffer from unintended consequences, but don’t let them tell you they didn’t understand this would happen. They were warned often enough.