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Copenhagen Business School

Denmark, Brexit and me

(Photo: Mette Koors)

Blog |   26 Feb 2019

I grew up by the English seaside, raised with the idea that I was in full control of my life. I was told by my parents that no door is closed to me and my destiny was in my own hands. Now, being older, I realise that their rose-tinted view on life hasn’t followed me into adulthood and certain things are out of my control.

However, I never once thought my loss of control would be in the form of a referendum and I never thought it would influence my life so much.

Now let’s rewind a little bit to 2016 on the day of the now-famous Brexit referendum.

I woke up in my tent at Glastonbury festival, my muddy wellies still on from the night before. I heard cries of shock outside. No one thought the Leave vote would triumph. But that was that. I felt no dread and I certainly did not dwell too much on it; how much could this one vote change my life?

I heard cries of shock outside. No one thought the Leave vote would triumph

Fast forward two years and a lot has changed, and yet unchanged at the same time. Brexit’s progression has been hampered by countless debates, negotiations and delays and the UK is no nearer to leaving the EU than when I had awoken that morning in Glastonbury. I was still a staunch ‘Remainer’ and I had begun to feel more frustrated with the endless back and forth. But I was still feeling fairly positive about the post-EU future.

This all changed when I arrived in Denmark.

Firstly, as an EU citizen, my immigration process was a breeze and best of all the residence permit is free, a courtesy not extended to non-EU citizens. Of course, I knew about the usefulness of free movement in the EU but I didn’t truly grasp the importance until I saw it first hand.

The loss of free movement worries me as without it, fewer Europeans will move to the UK. The diverse mix of people and cultures is one of the things that makes the UK great and if this was no longer to continue it would be a loss to us all.

Of course, I knew about the usefulness of free movement in the EU but I didn’t truly grasp the importance until I saw it first hand

Secondly, I came to realise the essential nature of the Erasmus grant (which is funded by the EU). Copenhagen is, of course, an expensive place and without this grant I would have struggled to get by and would have been subjected to a diet of plain pasta and rice!

Thirdly, moving to Denmark has made me feel more European than I could have imagined. I instantly felt a connection with the other Europeans I have met on exchange. This is why Brexit truly worries me.

Not just on an economic or political level but on a social level; it threatens to divide the UK from Europe. This won’t just negatively impact us Brits, but Europe as a whole; millions of Europeans call the UK home. It scares me that London—one of the main cultural hubs of Europe—could get isolated, cut off on our lonely island.

It scares me that London—one of the main cultural hubs of Europe—could get isolated, cut off on our lonely island

There is also the fear that Brexit may start off a trend of referendums leading to Frexit, Nexit, Italeave (you know the puns).

However, seeing how Danes react to the Brexit vote (I’ve heard a number of choice words to describe it which I shall not mention here) I think these fears can be put to rest.

This also gives me some comfort as I can still hold onto the slight possibility that Article 50 will be revoked and we can put this whole mess behind us.

This gives me comfort as the island I call home will only be divided from Europe by the sea around it, and not in any other way

Although coming to Denmark has made me terrified of life in the UK post-EU, I can still take some solace from my exchange. I know I will always be European, no matter what boundaries are put up between the UK and Europe. Furthermore, I know from experience that Danes feel the same way. This gives me comfort as the island I call home will only be divided from Europe by the sea around it, and not in any other way.

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