Why should I hold priority over a country that I do not hold as superior to any other?
I was brought up as a very continental child. I spent summers in France, Italy and Germany, I was taught French and Italian history, I learnt German, French and Yiddish, and I was always put on exchange programmes with everyone from Finnish to Spanish children. My parents never taught me that Britain was especially great, especially different, or especially powerful. I was brought up an Anywhere Child.
Some people might call that an elite childhood. Certainly, I am aware of my privilege in having a great education, open minded and resourceful parents who saved carefully to give me a better life than the one they had had. I completely get that my experience of this island is very different to someone who never left, or had the opportunity to. My parents aren’t staying in this country after Brexit. I’m probably going to leave too. The gap between the somewhere and the anywhere groups is deeper than ever.
I have nothing here anymore. I don’t feel represented by the politics, I don’t feel the out looking narrative I hold is vital to my ethics belongs here. I look around and I don’t feel inspired by the architecture, art or fashion. I don’t see any opportunities here that I can’t chase elsewhere. I am disgusted by the racism, xenophobia and prejudice so many Britons hold. The poverty and lack of education that affects so many people here is painful. I am bored by anthems, rhetoric and endless Victorian Classism. It’s not even the Britain is especially bad: I just feel Brexit Britain doesn’t want me, and I don’t particularly want it. I’m not a patriot. I feel like an alien here.
The thing is, the minute you say you are as loyal to the wellbeing of the Dutch or the Italians as you are to British, everyone automatically gets angry. They assume you hate where you came from. But I was never British: I was always a European. I have mixed heritage, I have mixed lingualism, I have mixed politics and mixed faith. Brexit hurts me not just on a financial, fiscal level but as part of my identity.
There are so many people like me in my generation. For us, the nostalgic Britain of the 1950s reeks of racism, boredom, sexism and stuffy traditionalism. The Britain we grew up in was unremarkable. And the Britain of tomorrow looks divided and frightening.
So what to do?
I think anti-nationalists need to come out of the woodwork and shout about it. I know it’s not just me.