Brexit: Twitchy Brits and smug Europeans
By Sarita Rao
I am finding the reactions of my fellow expats in Luxembourg to a potential Brexit far more interesting than the actual facts and figures of the debate.
Maybe it’s my accent, but somehow quite random strangers or not-that-close acquaintances seem to think that the Brexit must be my favourite topic.
In truth, I like to talk about this subject about as much as I like discussing root canal treatment.
So, to pass the time in the run up to the referendum, I’ve decided to categorise the people who pounce on me with this subject. This categorising allows me to have a standard response--and so far it’s working pretty well.
The worried Brit expat
Tea and sympathy must always be on hand for anyone British working for the EU. This, coupled with a bit of hand-wringing and the half-question/half-statement “our jobs wouldn’t really go”, accompanied by a nervous laugh.
I quite like the ‘blitz’ spirit of ‘we’re all in this together’, but after two minutes I usually explain that my husband and kids have Irish passports.
The unworried Brit expat
There’s something secretly reassuring about the arrogance of people who work in private banking. Money markets don’t operate to national boundaries, and the über elite know what really makes the world go round.
If the Brexit comes up, it’s best to pretend your phone just rang and fake an entire conversation with an ‘imaginary’ friend until the conversation returns to the school run.
The smug European
There’s a lot of Europe that can’t wait to sock it to the Brits, because we never learn to speak anyone else’s language, have kept the pound and still use miles not kilometres. These same people believe that Britain will float across the Atlantic to become the 53rd state of America.
They always address the issue personally with sentences like, “Cameron’s really done it now for you,” or “You’ll have to give Scotland independence." I always reply with, “I do hope Scotland gets independence and, of course, Northern Ireland, Brittany, Corsica, the Basque country and Catalonia.”
The uncertain European
These people are mostly from the countries that have just joined the EU and are not happy about seeing anyone leave the party when they just got an invite. They speak excellent English and their kids are often in the English section at school, which is their main Brexit worry: “Will England stop sending teachers?” they ask.
“You bet they will,” I reply.
The 'what’s-all-the-fuss-about?' non-European
Americans, Aussies, South Africans, South Americans, Pakistanis–there’s a plethora of non-Europeans living here. They’re used to applying for visas and dealing with red tape and don’t see what all the fuss is about.
If they mention the Brexit it’s usually to be polite, and any conversation can be immediately deflected with two words: Donald Trump.
The FB poll taker
Are people really that unable to decide how to vote without holding a Facebook poll? Does collecting emotionally skewed answers help you decide, or merely make you feel better that your friends are as ill-informed as you?
Please just post another picture of your cute child/puppy/grandma on the site and take time to read one of the thousands of articles written about the subject.
So if you hear a British accent in Luxembourg, please don’t lecture us on the Brexit. Just ask us about the American elections, the UN in Syria or even the Chinese stock market.
On these matters we can patronise, eulogise and bore as well as the next person.
Read Sarita Rao's other articles in her column: The L Word