After the Brexit vote, my pride in taking British citizenship is fading

时间:2019-09-15  作者:米鼠洪  来源:威尼斯人网址  浏览:134次  评论:124条

I am what you could call a Brit – an EU citizen who applied to become British in case the referendum returned a leave result.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to be British for a long time. My love affair with the UK started when I left aged 16 to do an exchange year at a school in rural Shropshire. One half term, we travelled to London to see The Mousetrap, and as soon as we stepped off the train, I hoped this city would be my home some day.

It now is, and has been for most of the past 13 years, along with stints in Glasgow, Manchester and Howden, east Yorkshire. I have seen and experienced so many sides of this beautiful island, from the bustling cities to stunning countryside. But most of all I love its funny, quirky people, the national love of an underdog, the determination to always find a solution to any problem and the mix of so many different people from other countries and backgrounds who make it such an exciting place to live.

I’m married to a British citizen, I’ve built a life here, this is home. But the more than £1,000 fee always seemed a bit steep. Not least because I enjoyed all the rights a Brit has anyway, except being allowed to vote in elections.

Then David Cameron actually set a date for that referendum, and suddenly I was in a rush. I didn’t really believe people would vote to leave, but you never know. So last November I painstakingly filled in the application, passed the, sent everything off to the Home Office and put the fee on my credit card.

I spent four months fretting about whether I had remembered the right date I first arrived at Heathrow, and if I had correctly totted up each and every trip I’ve taken over the past three years. Ironically, the approval letter arrived when I was abroad. I got the news over the phone just outside St Peter’s Basilica in Rome; the assembled pilgrims probably didn’t appreciate my yelps of “Oh my God!”.

I was ecstatic. Finally, I would be both German and British, and even if the UK voted to leave – which was then still a very remote possibility in my mind – I would be “safe”. The ceremony at a London town hall – on April Fool’s Day – was unexpectedly emotional, and as much as I tried to stay cool, I did choke up and cry a little when we sang God Save the Queen.

Hyde Park. ‘Most of all I love Britain’s funny, quirky people, the national love of an underdog, the determination to always find a solution to any problem and the mix of so many different people from other countries and backgrounds.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Since the referendum, however, that initial happiness and pride has been tainted by a feeling of disappointment, a fear I may have misjudged my adopted home, and rejection. Not necessarily the horrendous “you’re not wanted here” kind that some people have , but a sense of a dismissal of the European ideal I firmly believe in.

The leave vote to me was a “no” to nations working together for a better future and to prevent another war in Europe, among all the other things. And that is one way in which I still feel very German. For many young Germans, myself included, being European is something to be proud of, whereas being German is not. The German former head of the V&A, Martin Roth, that if you’re born in the 1950s you’re not proud to be German – and that is still true if you’re a child of the 80s, like me.

Speaking to my German friends before the referendum, one thing that kept coming up was how proud they were to be Europeans. It means transcending nationality and meeting, working and living with people from different countries and backgrounds. Germans are particularly invested in the European project because it has ensured peace in this part of for over 70 years.

It has also been a chance to be part of something more than a nation haunted by its brutal history. Reports that descendants of tens of thousands of German Jews who fled the Nazis and found refuge in Britain are now thinking about using their legal right to become German citizens is perhaps indicative of how much Germany has changed. But Germans will also be among the first to understand that some feel about doing so.

Most Germans still don’t have the happy patriotism that many of the British have, with union jacks on their cushions and mugs, no questions asked. Many even try to hide their Germanness when they’re abroad; we are obsessed with losing any trace of an accent and thrilled when someone reckons we are from x, y or z, as long as no one guesses Germany.

So for me becoming British was also an expression of feeling able to be proud of the UK’s openness and diversity. While far from being perfect, it always seemed to be miles ahead of Germany in its acceptance of people from all around the world. However, the rise in xenophobic and racist crimes since June – and more recently the against the high court judges ruling on who can trigger article 50 and the campaigners who brought the case – are making me question whether the Britain I thought I knew really is liberal and forward-thinking.

Six months into my new nationality, I still believe Britain to be one of the best countries to live on Earth. But it is vital that we stand up for the openness and diversity that make it great rather than leave our fortunes to those who would rather we turn inwards and close the doors.