Cheryl Sue: A place called Britain, which used to be great

Come 2016, and we all know the sad, sad story. Photo / AP
Come 2016, and we all know the sad, sad story. Photo / AP

Cheryl Sue was born in Pukekohe of Chinese heritage and works in insurance in London.

Sometimes I think I was born a few years too late. I missed getting my full driver's licence without a practical test and I missed buying petrol for less than $1 a litre. By the time I started university I missed the Goblin and couch burnings at Carisbrook. 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 Ryanair.

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 recession. I had it deferred, because the industry I worked in was making hundreds of people redundant a week over there.

Finally, with Michael Jackson tickets booked (and unceremoniously refunded within a month of arriving), I left New Zealand. The job market was hard. In 2009, hard-working Kiwis were pretty low on employers' priority list.

The focus was, and still is, on UK experience. So I left London, moved to Wales for a couple years (not remotely like New Zealand at all) and then moved to London in 2011, just in time for Wills and Kate's wedding.

It was 2012 when the idea of leaving the EU became topical in Parliament. Undoubtedly, this was overlooked by most Kiwis, who were more interested in the Olympics and getting a decent pie at Kiwi House.

Come 2016, and we all know the sad, sad story. If I had been born a few years earlier I probably would have left during the recession. Now Britain is leaving the EU and 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 the "out" voters. To my immense disappointment, two people sheepishly admitted they voted "out" thinking "in" would win.

Even more disappointing were my Kiwi comrades who were dismayed by the result but forgot to vote. Getting your British passport and then buggering off home is really paying off isn't it?

Now Britain is leaving the EU and the world is ending - again - and I'm still bloody here ready to suffer the consequences.

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 in the "leave" camp. I simply don't have the strength to walk down the street and have people yell "go back to your own country". Incidentally, in post-Brexit UK casual racism is allowed.

I'm not suggesting that everyone in the "leave" camp is 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 the same message on social media, highlights the levels of ignorance of the "majority" in the country.

My Scottish friend and her Italian 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 at short notice. Indefinitely. He said it might be one week, it might be three months. I doubt I will see him again.

I was considering applying for British citizenship this year, but now I'm not sure there's any point. At least if I use the 1200 ($2267) application fee to come home, Kiwis know the difference between Europeans and Asians and wouldn't organise a mail drop campaign targeting the Polish communities (sound familiar, anyone?).

At the rate this country's going, there will be no United Kingdom anymore, just a place called Britain, which used to be great.

- NZ Herald

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