When we made the decision to leave the EU, I was still on my year abroad in Italy. Despite not being in Britain, I didn’t miss out on the outrage of the result. It turned out, the Italians were as surprised at the outcome as we were, and I think they have just as much right to be disappointed.
After having so many amazing experiences in Italy, the saddest outcome of the referendum was knowing that many of my Italian friends would not have the opportunity to come and work in the UK. It was inspiring how many of them tried to improve their English with me. One of them has been dreaming of living in the UK since she was seven, and now her hopes have been, needless to say, crushed. She wasn’t the only one. I haven’t met a single university student who wanted to stay in Italy after their degree. The job prospects in Italy for young people are unbelievably low, and for many, moving to the UK is the opportunity of a lifetime.
The job prospects in Italy for young people are unbelievably low, and for many, moving to the UK is the opportunity of a lifetime
I think a lot of people simply felt hurt. As soon as the Italians heard our British accents, they would ask us what we had voted for. Assuring them that we were on their side wasn’t quite enough. Many would still ask us why had the majority of the country voted to leave. It seemed as though they felt abandoned by us. This is the general feeling in Spain as well, where I spent my summer. No one is saying the European Union is an infallible governing body, but both Spain and Italy were hoping we would stick around to help solve the issues within. Instead, we abandoned our common ship, and now deserve the skepticism and scorn coming our way from abroad.
…both Spain and Italy were hoping we would stick around to help solve the issues within. Instead, we abandoned our common ship
It is, indeed, scorn as well. Italy is the eighth biggest trading partner with the United Kingdom, and yet in a survey recently carried out and published in L’Espresso, 43% of Italians claimed they were now less likely to want to buy our products. Clearly, the wave of disappointment developed into a sense of betrayal.
Talking with a friend of mine a few weeks after the referendum, she spoke to me of a building fear in the country of other Eurosceptic parties, such as the Italian Lega Nord, gaining more political power after watching the UK vote out. Matteo Renzi, Italian PM, admitted this could be one of the issues caused by Brexit. Call this inspiration if you will, but I will only be able to see it with the image of my friend’s worried face in mind. She, like many students here, does not want to leave the European Union.
For better or for worse, we are leaving. The purpose of this article was not to give another damning account for the result of Brexit – there is already a plethora of articles from that stand point. What I hoped to convey was how, on a strictly superficial level, we are viewed by other European citizens. They don’t care if we voted out for our economy, or to get £350 million back to spend on the NHS (cough, regret). They care, as they understandably should, about the fact that we are shutting our doors on them and all the possibilities they had been dreaming of. I, for one, was proud to think of our country as the provider of such opportunities.