In this post, which is my 200th blog, I’m stepping away from my usual topics of customer experience and employee engagement to talk a little more personally. Following the referendum in June 2016 where the British people expressed a (marginal) preference to exit the UK, on 29th March 2019, the UK will leave the EU (or soon after), in an event which has become known as Brexit.
Like many people living in London (and other major cities in England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland), I voted against leaving the EU, because the benefits of our membership far outweigh the inconveniences. Politicians and businesses did their best to influence British citizens in the voting, with many half truths and exaggerated claims being levied. The perception that the EU did not add enough value, that Britain was better off going it alone, and that the rest of the world would rush to trade with the UK ultimately resulted in Britain voting to leave the EU.
For my (Finnish) husband and I, along with many people we know with non-British friends and family, the past three years have been a time of stress and worry. Even as the official leave date looms, there’s still no certainty or security for long time EU citizens resident in the UK. Businesses are expressing serious concern with the lack of planning, and government departments seemingly under-prepared for potential issues. Britain is not a happy place at the moment. But all of this is still not the main reason that my husband and I decided that it was time to #EscapeFromBrexitland .
Whilst I feel a deep sense of sadness that the country where I was born is being so short-sighted, I have always felt European. I love the opportunities that the EU membership afforded us, enriching our lives, choices and experiences. From the enhanced range of fruit and veg in your supermarket, to the fantastic destinations for a weekend getaway, to the security and freedom of sharing information across so many borders, the EU has shaped the way we live today. Since joining in 1973, one could even argue that the UK has played a valuable role in being the “grumpy old aunty” who always questioned every decision. But we still got to take advantage of all the upsides. All of this starts to disappear when the UK leaves the EU.
On the day that the UK officially leaves the EU, my husband and I are leaving the UK, moving to a whole new life in Lisbon, Portugal. This is our #EscapeFromBrexitland. We are so excited about our new life, in a fantastic country, with lovely people, great food, super weather and a bright future. We feel so positive about our life continuing in the EU. It’s the start of the next chapter for us, although I do feel a sense of sadness about leaving behind our UK life, and genuine concern for the future direction of Britain.
But it’s important to look forward, own your destiny and drive forward your life in your chosen direction. For me, this means being part of a community of half a billion others, with common laws, goals and aspirations, and greatly reduced barriers to working together. In turn, we commit to add value, make a difference and be an active member of society within the EU. So although Brexit will signal the sad demise the EU-UK bond, Brexit day for me at least will be a celebration, as we head back into the EU for our new life together. This is my #EscapeFromBrexitland.