I flitted to Scotland in 2002 because I got a job at Collins Dictionaries in Bishopbriggs. Because of the EU, it was almost a simple as getting a job at home — I simply applied for it, went for an interview and signed a contract, without having to apply for a work permit or anything. I had to get a national insurance number, but that was straightforward; the only real difficulty I faced was getting a bank account, which was a real pain.
To this day I’ve never had a work permit or any other piece of paper confirming that I have a right to live here — this is different from all the non-EU migrants who of course have to get such papers as soon as they move here.
I fell in love with one of my colleagues, Phyllis, and we married in 2009 (I was of course wearing a kilt, in the beautiful Buchanan tartan). In the same year, we set up a company together. Our life is here, and yet I’m only allowed to live here because of the EU — our daughters have dual nationality, but I’m still only Danish.
And yes, I could apply for UK citizenship, but until September 2015 it would have meant giving up my status as a Danish citizen because of Danish legislation (and my daughters would also have stopped being Danish at that point). I’m looking into it now, but it’s a complicated process which involves two exams, a lot of forms and a significant amount of money.
Denmark disenfranchises its citizens after two years abroad, so since 2004 I’ve only been able to vote for two parliaments: The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. Neither the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen nor the UK Parliament in London wants to know what I think. And of course I can’t take part in the Brexit referendum tomorrow, because it uses the Westminster franchise.
If the UK votes in favour of leaving the EU tomorrow, one of the consequences will be that I won’t be able to take part in Scottish Parliament elections any more, and if there is another Scottish independence referendum, I won’t be able to vote in that, either. The mere thought is absolutely heartbreaking, given how much time and effort I invested in the last indyref.
Of course nobody knows what Brexit will entail. It could be that the outcome is a Norwegian solution, in which case the only real consequence for me will be losing my right to vote in Holyrood elections, but if it ends up as an acrimonious divorce, nobody knows what the consequences will be — EU citizens might for instance be charged to use the NHS, or we might lose the right to some benefits.
I really fail to see how Brexit will benefit normal people, and it has the potential to harm millions drastically. Voting Leave is not simply a harmless way to give David Cameron a bloody nose, but a potentially serious blow to the European Union — which, in spite of all its failings, has allowed normal people like me to get a work in another country and to start a family there without having to jump through hundreds of bureaucratic hoops.
Please vote Remain. I can’t, but I would.