An Immigrant’s View


As an immigrant in France since 2003, I know how I would feel if my neighbours here had all voted to leave the EU in order to get rid of us.

I am British but have lived and worked in France for the last 13 years with my husband and four children. The experience of moving to another country, learning another language and setting up a business abroad has hugely enriched our lives. It has, I hope, increased our tolerance to different attitudes and behaviour and deepened our understanding of another culture and way of life. I am sure it means that our children have grown up with broader horizons, more open to new experiences and to people with different backgrounds to their own. Above all they have grown up as Europeans and I could not be happier that we have had the opportunity to have this adventure. It seems unthinkable that others will no longer have this freedom.

My generation has grown up in and enjoyed the peace, security and freedom that the European project has created. Future generations will now not have this and the break-up of Europe seems to me a massive step backwards, hugely short-sighted and very sad. Of course Europe is not perfect, it is a work in progress and there are still plenty of areas that need improving but none of us are perfect; all we can do is strive to be the best version of ourselves and Europe is still in its infancy, it needs nurturing and direction not abandoning.

Since moving to France, we have received nothing but kindness and have been welcomed by our neighbours, the children’s schools, by locals and by work colleagues; nationality, religion, race and culture have been irrelevant and I am so grateful for this. The fact that our foreign friends living in the UK now feel unwelcome and unwanted shows something of the British character that I never believed existed. We have been so lucky to enjoy the very best elements of being part of Europe and I am proud to be European. I only hope that future generations will find a way of following their dreams and living lives based on understanding and openness to other cultures, even with clipped wings.

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