Monday, 12 September 2016

Brexit: Positives on the horizon?

I am one of the estimated 3.5 million EU immigrants in the UK who were “voted out” in the EU referendum on 23 June 2016.
I am a German freelance translator, so I can’t be blamed for taking somebody else’s job away since I created my job myself. And although other EU immigrants haven’t created jobs themselves, whether they’re doctors or fruit-pickers, they’re still needed.

I am far from being entitled to tax credits and I don't receive a penny in benefits of any kind. In fact, according to HMRC statistics, EU and EEA nationals on the whole pay more in income tax and national insurance contributions than they take out in tax credits and benefits (source).

My business has thrived in the UK’s current economic climate. I don’t just work for UK companies, but also have clients overseas, and any taxes earned on foreign income I pay to the UK tax office.

Yet my foreign accent doesn’t reveal any of this.

I have always enjoyed living in the UK – and not just for economic reasons – but the atmosphere has changed now. Suddenly it's become a bit awkward to be a foreigner here. And this has clearly never been an issue for me before.

I am no longer interested in applying for a Permanent Residence Card under UK immigration rules, filling in an 85-page form for this, waiting (maybe for years) for my passport and papers to be returned to me and to hear if I’ve been accepted, and then (optionally) naturalising as a British citizen, which would not just be expensive, but also include having to pass a ridiculous “Living in Britain” exam. No thanks.

My Polish translator colleague Kasia has rightly pointed out that whatever happens with regard to Brexit, we will always have plenty of options. So that is definitely a good thing and worth bearing in mind.

Horizon: Crossing the English Channel on 6 August 2016

It may all be doom and gloom at present, but I am no longer shocked by what I learnt on 24 June; in fact, I now find it even rather amusing to follow the latest Brexit news. (Some of it at least; some of it clearly isn’t.)

I would be sad having to leave all my British friends, but relocating to continental Europe has all of a sudden become a real option. Brexit for me therefore acts as a motivating force to engage in some marketing and forge and rekindle relationships with clients on the continent.

On a more humorous note, since as a minimalist I do not necessarily need to earn lots of money to spend on stuff any more, it would not even hurt so much if I suffered income losses following any disastrous economic consequences post-Brexit. As a minimalist, I would be okay with less money in my pocket.

One thing is for sure, though: Despite all the current uncertainty, international trade will continue, so there is still plenty that we as language professionals can do in practical terms even now. And who knows: Brexit may actually open up new interesting business opportunities for some of us – also in light of the weakening pound.

So, amidst all Brexit worries, if we try very hard, we may be able to see at least some positives on the horizon!