How Brexit is affecting a Kiwi in London

By Cheryl Sue

Cheryl Sue is a Kiwi of Chinese heritage who was born and grew up in Pukekohe. She works in insurance in the City of London and lives in East London.

Sometimes I think I was born a few years too late.

When I was in High School, I missed getting my full driver's licence without a practical test and I missed buying petrol for under $1 a litre. By the time I started university, I missed the Goblin and couch burnings at Carisbrook (Wet Wednesday at the Bowler potentially made up for this). I didn't do an OE and started working straight away, missing out on three dollars to the pound, a surfeit of contract jobs and £1 flights with Ryan Air.

When I decided to go to the UK, I was lucky enough to be one of the final few to get the Highly Skilled Migrant, Tier 1 Visa ... Right in the middle of the bloody recession. I had it deferred, because the industry that I worked in was making hundreds of people redundant a week. Think government bailouts. Perfect time to go.

With Michael Jackson tickets booked (and unceremoniously refunded within a month of arriving), I left New Zealand. The job market was hard. Turns out, in 2009, being a hard-working Kiwi is pretty low on people's priority list and the focus was and still is, UK experience. So I left London, moved to Wales for a couple years (not remotely like New Zealand at all, in case you were wondering), then moved to London in 2011, just in time for Will's and Kate's wedding.

Kiwi Cheryl Sue moved to the UK on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa in 2009. Now she's wondering if the application fee for British citizenship would not be better spent coming home. Photo / Supplied
Kiwi Cheryl Sue moved to the UK on a Highly Skilled Migrant visa in 2009. Now she's wondering if the application fee for British citizenship would not be better spent coming home. Photo / Supplied

2012 in London was the start of trying to make Britain "great again". It was when the idea of the leaving the EU became topical with Parliament. Undoubtedly, this was overlooked by most Kiwis, who were more absorbed with the Olympics and getting a decent pie at Kiwi House.

Come 2016, and we all know the sad, sad story. My theory into play, if I was born a few years earlier, I would have probably left during the recession. Now, Britain is leaving the EU, the world is ending. Again. And I'm still bloody here, ready to suffer the consequences.

The reaction to Brexit was immediate. I didn't want to go to work the next day to avoid the smug reactions of those who voted "out". To my immense disappointment, two people sheepishly admitted that they voted "out" thinking "in" would win.
Even more disappointing, are my Kiwi comrades who are dismayed at the result, but have admitted that they "forgot" to vote. Getting your British passport, then buggering off home is really paying off, isn't it?

Moving to Wales isn't an option this time. While my Welsh friends are embarrassed and devastated, (and they're used to disappointment, being Welsh rugby supporters), Wales were overall in the Leave camp.

I simply don't have the strength to the walk down the street and have people yell "go back to your own country", as I'm walking down the street. Incidentally, post-Brexit, casual racism is now a reality.

I'm not suggesting that everyone in the Leave camp are racist, but a lot are, and ironically, do not realise that leaving the EU is a European matter, not an Asian matter, so the reported incidents of "Proud to be British" people yelling at ethnic minorities "you're next", or the tech savvy who will write on social media "your next", highlights the levels of ignorance of the "majority" in the country.

My Scottish friend and her Italian Stallion fiance are now speeding up their wedding plans. Not, as you would expect so he can get a British passport, but so that she can get an EU passport through Italy.

Companies have been rumoured to be moving their London bases abroad. My French flatmate has gone to Paris on short notice. Indefinitely. He said it might be one week, it might be three months. I doubt that I will ever see him again.

I was considering applying for British citizenship this year, but now I'm not sure if there's any point. At least if I use the £1,200 application fee coming home, Kiwis know the difference between Europeans and Asians and wouldn't organise a mail drop campaign targeting the Polish community (sound familiar, anyone?).

At the rate this country's going, there will be no United Kingdom anymore, just an island called Britain, that once upon a time used to be great.

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