Business / Talking Business

My personal sadness to see the UK leaving EU

By Emma Gonzalez (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-29 07:23

My personal sadness to see the UK leaving EU

A video screen in front of the London Stock Exchange broadcasting news on the latest Brexit developments. [Photo/China News Service]

Sad, shocked and terrified. That's how I woke up to the news that the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union.

Although I am a Spanish citizen, I have always considered London my second home.

I lived and worked there for a period of over five years. I even chose to pursue my Master's degree at a university in Britain's capital.

I really cannot imagine my life without the EU. The European alliance has enabled me to work, study and travel in many different countries within the continent.

I am who I am because of all the opportunities that I received thanks to the contribution of other countries in Europe and I am incredibly proud to call myself European.

The outcome of a UK not being part of the EU was unthinkable to me. Yet, I could predict a few years back that there were rocky waters ahead when certain political parties in the UK started to stir the immigration debate.

Around three years ago, a very close English friend of mine told me during a casual conversation that he favored not belonging to the EU, arguing that exiting would reduce the number of immigrants to the country.

His comment caught me by surprise as I was myself an immigrant.

"Oh, but I was obviously not talking about people like you," he quickly added when he saw my stunned face.

After having voted to leave the EU, many people in the UK are scratching their heads now.

Just like my friend did, they spoke first and thought later. Their vote was influenced by emotions and not facts.

They have now realized that their decision might force dear friends and valuable colleagues out of the country.

The British have been ill-informed about the real economic and social consequences of building up walls and become an isolated entity in Europe.

However, part of me understands the Brits. Since the beginning of the crisis, the union seemed to have lost contact with citizens, demanding tough austerity measures that have caused pain and resentment within the club of countries.

These extremely harsh measures to counteract the economic crisis have suffocated the middle and working classes of Europe, leading to fear and anger.

In this sense, I really hope that the Brexit proves to be a strong wake-up call to officials in Brussels. If the institution does not improve the way it serves citizens across Europe, we will be facing further disintegration of the continent.

It is still too soon to quantify the economic disaster of Brexit, but it is safe to say that the worst is yet to come.

Highly qualified workers and important pillars of society such as medical workers, teachers and architects will be packing their things, causing disastrous social and economic consequences.

In past decades, the UK became the financial center of Europe because it managed to attract the best English-speaking talent from all across Europe.

Most London residents voted to stay in the EU because they know that the real nightmare will begin when qualified European workers will fail to meet the new work permit criteria.

"People at the Frankfurt Stock Exchange must be elated. The money and the talent from the City (London's financial district) is going its way," a former colleague of mine recently wrote in her social media account.

I am shocked as I struggle now to recognize the country where I spent a good part of my working life.

I am sad as I fail to see how Britain can fight the economic slowdown without the support of the rest of Europeans. I am scared to see that we Europeans are starting to lose faith in our own values.


Hot Topics

Editor's Picks