Guest Blog: Upcoming March Highlights Hostility Issues of Brexit

This post is an article written by our guest blogger Rebecka Durén who is a Swedish journalism student at Newcastle University. Rebecka has interviewed students as well as Dr Anders Widfeldt who is a professor at University of Aberdeen. This interview was conducted closely after our society held an event with Dr Widfeldt and the Nordic society. Rebecka’s article does not represent the views of the society as we are neutral and do not have an opinion.

As  the upcoming People’s Vote march raises unsolved issues of the Brexit negotiations, many Swedish residents are increasingly worried about their ability to stay and continue their studies or work in the UK. Many report even having experienced hostility since the vote to leave in 2016.

Since the details surrounding the deal are still unclear, the potential consequences of what leaving the EU might mean for Swedish residents in the UK is something that is frequently discussed in forums and Facebook-groups. People are asking about their children’s right to stay, for their ability to continue their studies or what this might mean for their career. 

I applied to my university just after the Brexit vote and I remember feeling disheartened and worried. Now, almost two years in, those feelings are as strong as ever and I feel uncertain about any prospects of continuing my career in the UK. Speaking to other Swedish students in the UK a lot of them seem to relate to these worries.

Mitali Singh, a second year law student at the University of Sussex, says she knows a lot of students are frustrated about the vote to leave and the consequences it has left its young voters with. Singh also said she believes that many will choose to move somewhere else to study and pursue a career. 

“London won’t be seen as the international hub as it is seen as today. Working there used to mean you can work anywhere, and I don’t think it will be like that anymore.”

There have even been instances where discriminating comments have been reported from Swedes living around the UK, seemingly as a result of Brexit. Sara*, a mother living in North Yorkshire describes how a man told her to “fuck back off to her own country” when he heard her speaking Swedish to her daughter.

“When I defended myself he started getting out of his car to ‘teach me a lesson’.” she added.

Christine Nilsson Liddle living in Berkshire said: “I had never experienced xenophobia directed at me until the day after the Brexit vote, when I was told off with a number of swearwords to learn the language or get out of here”.

Teaming up with the Independent’s campaign Final SayPeople’s Vote aims to ‘make political leaders sit up and take notice’ according to their website. The march wants to prevent the UK leaving the EU as they believe it would ‘make our country poorer, trash our vital public services and wreck the life chances of the young’. 

Dr Anders Widfeldt, a Swedish lecturer in Nordic Politics at the University of Aberdeen stated that UK leaving the EU could result in political instability for Sweden.

“Sweden and Britain have often worked together in the EU on budgets and other things, so Sweden will lose an ally here that could affect the whole power structure in the EU, and not for the better.”

*Sara did not want her surname to appear in the article.

The original article written by Rebecka can be found here