I don’t know if it’s because I come from the country of Mussolini or because I don’t mind saying that what China has been doing to Tibet is disgusting (and also that Primark is not a good reason to avoid admitting that China is a dictatorship), but I’m a quite politically-oriented individual. Pretty much everyone is, in Italy. However, the only political thing I once wrote here was the following sentence I had put in the old terms and conditions page when I was still selling career services: politically speaking, I am where the heart is. Which, nowadays, means absolutely nothing, even when many of your exes called you a communist.
Anyway, since there must be at least half a million Italians permanently living and working in the UK, as soon as the Leave won the UK’s referendum on the EU, all the major (well, and also the minor) Italian newspapers reported that:
- Britons are racist.
- Those who voted Leave are not as educated as those who voted Remain, so their vote shouldn’t count.
- Britons living anywhere in Europe will be kicked away.
- Ryanair won’t fly to London anymore.
- Italian students and workers living in the UK are not welcomed anymore so they can expect to get fired/evicted with immediate effect.
Last week, I received a call on my Italian number from a Sky call centre trying to sell me some broadband stuff. As I politely informed the guy that I am not really based in Italy anymore (stop laughing, I swear I have been polite), he started shouting at me that England (they never quite got the “UK” in Italy) will kick Italians out of the country and that this is exactly what we deserve for having left our own country, and that Switzerland and Norway don’t have any immigrants and that I was an ignorant sheep who knows absolutely nothing about politics and that he was half American and that why he didn’t return to America was not my business and that Donald Trump would win.
Then he hung up on me.
This, and many other horrible conversations with my compatriots happened because I was trying to defend the UK, because I am trying to defend the country that gave me so much, even though I don’t have an opinion about Brexit.
I have been living in the UK for over 3 years now, and my 5 months working at the European Parliament in Brussels didn’t exactly turn me into someone who would wear an EU-flagged T-shirt. At the same time, if I have been able to live and work in plenty of other countries, it has been largely thanks to Brussels.
Hence, I don’t really know what the right thing to do was, and I don’t even think it is my business since I am not British – and Brexit has been democratically decided by the people.
To be honest, who do I think I am to judge the level of education of the people who voted Leave?
Are we getting back to the era when only educated people could vote?
Does anyone care about the level of education of Donald Trump’s fans?
Those who say that Brits are racist have never been in Brick Lane; those who say that Brits don’t know what they’re doing should remember how this tiny island got to conquer the world.
The UK was not among the EU’s founding members, they didn’t adopt the Euro, they don’t have Carrefour, they are not in Schengen, they have different electric plugs, they drive on the left, they call us “you Europeans”, so what are we really talking about? If it’s all about money, why don’t we simply say that and stop the nostalgic crap on Facebook?
The actual trouble is that in Italy and in so many other countries, the immigrant is seen as someone who steals work from locals. And since Italians often work off the books, they don’t even think about the billions of taxes Europeans pay to the UK government every year – not to mention the business we all do together.
What they do think instead, is that Brits want to get rid of Europeans so they can replace us with locals who will have true British blood running through their veins.
Such a sophisticated thing to believe in.