I have been living in the UK for more than a decade now. I have always worked and paid my taxes. It wasn’t a deliberate choice to come to the UK, it is something that just happened. And here I am now, a mother of British kids who speak Spanish at home, and everywhere.
We know we are slightly different because we speak, eat and holiday differently but we always fit. Anywhere. We never thought that our language -that we use among ourselves-would keep us from being part of the school or whatever other activity we chose to get involved in, when my kids go into school they are just like any other British kids. When I am at work I do all is expected from a Britt- including the numerous cups of tea.
I never questioned weather I should be here or not. I happen to work and have started a family here just like the many British people who have chosen to live in Spain. Because we live in the EU we can do that. What is more important, I never felt that other people maybe be questioning whether I should be here or not. I never questioned that people may feel dislike to hear us talk, that we would be tagged as foreigners or immigrants. I felt just like another one. Just a world citizen.
But things have changed now. The campaign for the stay or leave -the EU referendum -has made me feel uncomfortable. Has made me feel foreigner and immigrant. Has made me feel unwelcome. Every time I pick up the phone at work I question whether the person at the other end of the line is a Brexit supporter or a Remain supporter. Would my accent annoy him or her? Would they think I am taking the job of a British person? When I pay at the shops, do they see me as an invader of their precious territory? Do they wish me gone? Do they think I came here because of their welfare and benefits system? Do they think I am a parasite?
I have made use of the NHS, to give birth to my children, and a Spanish midwife looked after me in the birth of my son (another one!). I have never claimed any benefits. If I found myself in that position I wouldn’t like to live here, I’d leave. Life under the benefit system is so precarious you wouldn’t want to find yourself in it. I think it is mostly people who have been raised under those conditions who grow up to be adults in benefits because they don’t know any better. I doubt there are masses of migrants that come here to take advantage of the benefits, because they probably live a better live with a precarious job in their respective countries.
When I visit my mum in Spain my kids often play with British kids, but they pretend they don’t understand English at the start. Up the road from my mum’s there is a restaurant where only English is spoken, along the beach there are many establishments with British clients only. At the doctor, you hear more English than Spanish while you wait for your appointment. At the shops. Even some of the homeless are British. They are everywhere, and this is only a small village.
Whether they decide to stay or leave, this campaign has given a loud voice to the angry mass, a loud voice to say they hate being part of the EU. One person even took his hate to the extreme and killed an MP.
We shall see.