Today is 31st January 2020.
This is the last day that we will be ‘in Europe’. At 11 o’clock tonight, I believe, we’ll float off into the Atlantic. Presumably heading for America.
So I’d like to say a few words.
I’d like to thank the European Union for giving me the opportunity – and the right – to live and work in another member state – in my case the Republic of Ireland, but I had 26 to choose from – with no formalities, no onerous paperwork, no restrictions on the work I could do or how much I could earn.
While I was in Ireland, I re-trained to teach English as a Foreign Language. All I had to do was apply to the language school and attend an interview. There were no formalities, no onerous paperwork, no restrictions.
Once I’d completed the training I was free to apply for any available jobs – with no formalities, no onerous paperwork, no restrictions. I worked at the Galway Cultural Institute. I taught people from all over the world – mostly Europe, obviously (because they could access the courses with no formalities, no onerous paperwork, no restrictions).
I’d like to thank the European Union for giving me the chance – and the right – to travel without restriction. I’ve been to France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, and Luxembourg.
I drove into Spain for the day. I popped to Luxembourg on a whim. When we were in Estonia we drove to Latvia for lunch. On the same holiday we took the ferry to Helsinki for €10 each, just because we could.
Will it be so easy for Brits to cross borders in the future? I don’t know. I’m glad I did it when I could – I wish I’d done more of it. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.
I voted Remain. I hope, fervently, that I was wrong. I hope, fervently, that, somehow, against all the odds, our blustering fool of a Prime Minister will pull this off. I hope, fervently, that I won’t find myself saying ‘I told you so’.
Because if I’m right, if leaving the EU is the biggest mistake our country could possibly make, the consequences are too awful to contemplate.
I’ve enjoyed being European. It bothers me greatly that these rights of mine can be taken away so easily. I think we’ll miss it more than we can imagine.
In the words of the Von Trapp family –
So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu.
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