Brexit religion: what’s wrong with it in 15 points

Disclaimer: Obviously, this is not a religious post. But the Brexit affair is becoming more and more like a faith with a series of dogmas and things to believe in. It might be wrong to define it as ‘religion’ as it’s not about believing in a God; however, that was the better term I could come up with. Sorry for any offence caused.

This article is not intended to be critical of any camp or political belief. Instead, I only wanted to highlight the attitudes, assumptions and expectations of several British voters/commenters and UK residents. I’ve tried to be as objective as possible, although from my position (I’m a EU citizen) it has been quite difficult. I ask for forgiveness beforehand.

1) Many Britons have the expectation that regardless of what everyone has voted, the country needs to pull up together and follow any belief in Brexit or law subsequent to the referendum as legitimate. If you don’t follow the flock, you’re branded as a traitor and possibly shouted down (fortunately, hanging is out of fashion at the moment and also a tad illegal). I’m afraid that all divisions that have been created by the referendum will stay here until all the voters dies out. Sorry for bursting your bubble, but getting over Brexit is not possible for many.

2) EU citizens are expected to shut up, collect their documents and prove they have the right to stay here. Any EU citizen showing they are offended or offering critical judgement of Brexit they get told to ‘bugger off to where they came from’ or to prove their loyalty to the British state through permanent card or citizenship, even if they are not eligible or cannot afford it.

3) Supposedly, university students and their tutors have become the ‘elite’ and whatever advice they can offer is now judged as ‘elitist’, ‘out of touch’, ‘non-sensical’; it is not worth to remind them that you might have come from a family with a poor background (as I did), because what you get in return is that you took advantage of the system whilst many poor sods (who likely didn’t give a damn about studying anyway!) had not access to higher education whilst you, nasty EU citizen, had. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

4) Any reminder of how xenophobic, nasty and racist the UK has become in only 4 months is bound to send them in a rant-frenzy of epic proportions. In particular, EU citizens are expected to bear the whole thing without speaking out or they are expected to get the heck out of the country. Dissent not accepted in many instances.

5) Assumptions about the easiness of the immigration and citizenship processes are wide-spread, even in the press. There were many cases of journalists who assumed, in their articles, that all EU citizens who have been resident for 5 years or longer automatically get an indefinite leave to remain. This is and never was the case. EU spouses married with British citizens do NOT get automatically citizenship either. They have to go through the permanent residence process as all the others (only non-EU spouses have a different process and shorter, because they pay for spouse visas).

6) Assumptions about the false equivalence ‘a foreigner goes, a local takes his/her place’. There are plenty of posters everywhere who assume that once you get rid of an immigrant a job position or a university place is now vacant for a British citizen to take. This is a failed approach for three reasons: a) the employer might not have wanted/found a local for that job position previously and they do decide not to replace him/her; b) the employer is a foreigner or works for a foreign company; after many foreign people leave, the company itself just moves away too, taking all the job opportunities with them; c) the university place was awarded by merit and no locals had or have the requirements to be chosen (this might not include medicine and any subject with place restrictions though).

7) Many Britons expect that many businesses, British or foreign, should stay after Brexit out of loyalty and commitment to the country. Useful to remind them that ‘there are no friends in business’ and if a company sees the collapse of their profits, they have two choices: 1) to declare bankrupt and close down; 2) to move away and save profits and jobs. Their loyalty lies with their customers and employees, they only pay tax contributions to the country, that is the only arrangement in place for them.

8) The general expectation that being patriotic means following the Brexit train with adoration and no critical approaches to make or say. Useful to remind them that patriotism and nationalism never fed people. They feed the ones at the top of the pyramid who exploit the patriotic bimbos who believe in such a utopia.

9) There’s the general idea that the referendum has served a double purpose, not only to leave the European Union, but it has made the big wigs in Westminster acknowledge it was a protest vote of the working classes. I will not try to define the term ‘working class’ here; however, it’s totally condescending to assume that anyone who’s working class shot themselves in the foot or voted against their interests. Many voted reasonably for what they believed in (whatever that was) and many will also be quite discontent once that their expectations will not be fulfilled. This is not due to Brexit itself, but it’s not mathematically possible that a certain situation/outcome can satisfy 100% of the ones who voted for it. It doesn’t exist and never did. If anyone believes it, they must believe in unicorns and fairy tales too (let me catch my broom before they arrive here though).

10) Expectactions about the government paying for EU subsidies lost. Afraid that is a dream from another planet. Taxpayers will replace those subsidies, with higher taxes. I expect Hammond to announce that at some point (as Hunt and Green clearly announced yesterday; they will kick sick/disabled people in the curb and send them to work. No more hand-outs).

11) The widespread belief that British citizens married with EU citizens should stay here in UK out of patriotic loyalty to their country, instead of following their spouses elsewhere once the EU spouses had enough of getting berated by the populace and the press (the latter is believed to be unacceptable behaviour, because ‘us’ the scroungers took advantage of the British system and we can’t go away without, at least, leaving our British husbands or wives here).

12) The belief of a trickle-down benefit system due to leaving the EU. This is a pet peeve of mine because the logic of it escapes me. If you leave a country/union/etc., there’s always something to pay (that would be the same for Scotland leaving the UK). Expectations of no change in negative terms are unrealistic. The ‘earthquake’ generated by such huge decisions will have many aftershocks. As many could see in the recent, real earthquakes in Italy, many valuable historical and archaeological assets simply crumbled down after 3-4 earthquakes. Economy will suffer the same after Brexit. The further expectation that ‘I eat something less today to get something more tomorrow’ is also silly because very often you won’t get anything tomorrow. Future is never certain, it’s why it’s future and not present. You could acknowledge the uncertainty and hope due to a choice, but it’s totally unrealistic to believe something positive will unequivocally come out of Brexit. Nobody knows and if history is anything to go by, the negative will bite first and for a lot longer than imagined (I’ve visited East Germany recently and in some parts it’s as awful as it was in 1989 when the Berlin Wall crumbled down).

13) Expectations of a better future for lower classes and the poor whilst a right-wing government is in power. This escapes my logical skills too. I NEVER heard such a thing; there’s not a right-wing government acting for the interests of the poor classes on all the planet. The concept itself is dumb. This point is the one who baffles me the most and it nearly pushed me to choose ‘Brexit cult’ instead of religion in the title. Poor classes are slaves from the point of view of the well-off classes. They don’t give a damn about who dies, who’s disabled, who has a problem, etc. Poor classes are expendable (as slaves were expendable in ancient Athens or Rome). Brexit or anything else is not going to change that, no matter how much people believe it. If financially speaking something positive comes out of Brexit, the benefits will be assimilated at the level they arrive first (= the top tier of the population). Anyone under that level, not only they won’t get any substantial benefits but they will have to pay for all the negatives too.

14) Expectations that granting the privilege to stay (or come, through a visa system) to some high-skilled immigrants will automatically mean they will stay (out of gratitude?) or that they will queue up at the British border in droves. This line of thought can be associated with attitudes towards skilled British citizens too, who are expected to stay and contribute to the system they took advantage of. It’s utter delusion to think that you can force upon migrants or citizens a reasoning of gratitude or patriotic loyalty. Many migrants who are highly skilled migrate for better opportunities; if they have family, they also gather information about the whole school system or healthcare system, how accessible or expensive they are, what the country has to offer for the future. As a migrant, I know that the United Kingdom enjoyed a high migration for Europe because of the free movement rule. But how will it fare a post-Brexit Britain in that regard? I suspect that there won’t be any need of controlling immigration after 2019, because only the uncertainty caused by Brexit will last two decades and many immigrants will bet their and their own families’ lives/future in more appealing countries (this without even counting the bad reputation UK has recently earned after the xenophobic accidents and murders).

15) Attitude to extensive generalisations, on everyone’s part:

  • Many middle class people voted Leave, as well as people from the upper classes;
  • Many Remainers are also xenophobic and would shoot an immigrant in the face if they had a gun;
  • Anyone who didn’t vote is NOT actually a Remainer, they just chose not to vote and never took a side;
  • University students voted Leave; some of them were so ignorant to believe UK was financing the NHS of other countries (I personally heard this one; what a waste of education!);
  • A large percentage of EU citizens who voted as dual citizens also voted to Leave and not to Remain.

N.B. : Rude, impolite, xenophobic, racist comments won’t be published. I have zero tolerance for that crap.

Merlin

Brexit per italiani – seconda puntata

Ciao a tutti!!

Mi scuso per i pochi aggiornamenti dal precedente post, ma pure io ho passato l’ultimo mese in completa confusione come milioni di altri britannici e non. Anche se al momento ci sono ancora poche cose che sembrano accuratamente definite riguardo al gran casino chiamato ‘Brexit’, però sicuramente si può cominciare a lavorare verso il futuro.

Mi sono decisa a scrivere un nuovo articolo dopo aver attestato la totale mancanza di messaggi, annunci, articoli (tranne i soliti a sfondo politico!) e pure un solo piccione viaggiatore da parte italiana. Le autorità italiane ‘ci’ hanno completamente dimenticato, a parte nell’incontro di ieri tra Renzi e il primo ministro inglese Theresa May. Un fatto che è stato ribadito da May a Renzi ieri è che NON ci sono assicurazioni di nessuna sorta per i cittadini italiani (o EU, in generale). http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/693875/Brexit-Italy-prime-minister-Matteo-Renzi-talks-Rome-Theresa-May-EU-referendum-EU-nationals

Questo lo voglio sottoscrivere poiché, dopo aver letto qualche commento online di italiani su forums o social media, pare non essere entrato nella testa di nessuno. Vediamo se viene capito da tutti se lo scrivo in lettere maiuscole e in grassetto:

NESSUNO HA MAI GUARANTITO CHE I CITTADINI EUROPEI SONO DESTINATI A RIMANERE IN UK DOPO BREXIT.

Mi sembra inutile ribadirlo ma … “EU citizens” include i cittadini italiani! Quindi nessuno vi sta guarantendo da parte del governo inglese che dobbiate rimanere. La May, al di là di quel che si dice, è abbastanza convinta che un Brexit ci sarà. Senza andare in analisi disfattiste senza senso stile sceneggiata melodrammatica all’italiana, molto più semplicemente prendete le dovute precauzioni per non farvi trovare impreparati, simple as that.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 5 ANNI (e meno di 6) in UK con contratto permanente

Fatevi la Permanent Card. Costa 65 sterline, quindi non è la fine del mondo spendere una cifra modica per mettervi al sicuro da eventuali ‘sviste’ xenofobe del governo. La Permanent Card (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-document-certifying-permanent-residence-or-permanent-residence-card-form-eea-pr) serve a definire il vostro stato di cittadino europeo perché il governo inglese a Ottobre 2015 ha ratificato che i cittadini EU devono esercitare i diritti di residenza permanente tramite l’appartenenza all’EEA/EU facendo appunto tale carta. Non farla adesso è sciocco o vi potreste trovare a far inutili file quando Brexit verrà ratificato o addirittura quando l’art. 50 viene invocato. Ho visto qualcuno dire che è bene fare anche l’iscrizione AIRE. A parte il fatto che l’ho fatta subito 7 anni fa, comunque farla vi mette al riparo da eventuali multe da parte dell’Agenzia dell’Entrate quando l’Home Office britannico incrocerà i documenti con quelli in possesso dell’ambasciata italiana. Non interferisce con la Permanent Card però, perché ai fini della PR vale solo il vostro periodo lavorativo; se eravate senza lavoro dovete dimostrare che avevate abbastanza fondi per mantenervi da soli.

  • LAVORATORI DA PIU’ DI 6 ANNI in UK con contratto permanente

Potete farvi la cittadinanza britannica. Al di là del costo (esorbitante), se avete dei risparmi per farlo e avete anche i requisiti richiesti, FATELA. Ciò vi mette al riparo da eventuali brutte sorprese future e non vi fa neppure perdere la cittadinanza italiana. Vi ricordo che gli accordi tra le due nazioni in materia di cittadinanza non hanno nessuna attinenza con l’EU e quindi la ‘dual citizenship’ rimarrà in vigore, Brexit o non-Brexit. Una postilla: dovete obbligatoriamente fare anche la Permanent Card per chiedere la cittadinanza, più Life in the UK test e test in inglese approvato dall’Home Office. Se siete laureati in Italia o altrove e avete traduzione del Naric, c’è una casistica diversa. È scritto nei guide & the booklet for naturalisation. Per entrambi potete fare il download dal sito governativo.

  • LAVORATORI DA MENO DI 5 ANNI, con o senza contratto permanente

Questa è la categoria più incerta da definire. Non ci sono documenti che attestino la vostra permanenza qui, escluso quelli lavorativi chiaramente. Se siete qui da almeno tre anni, aspettate 2 anni e fatevi la permanent card. Se siete qui da meno di 3 anni, sarete un po’ in balia del vento e di ciò che viene stabilito negli accordi…. Accordi che sono avvolti nella nebbia al momento.

  • STUDENTI UNIVERSITARI che hanno già iniziato un corso di laurea

E’ un problemone. Perché’ zitto zitto il governo britannico ha istituito anche una Permanent Card per studenti EU che sono iscritti all’università in UK. È OBBLIGATORIO avere l’assistenza sanitaria privata se non avete mai lavorato su territorio UK e siete segnati solo come studenti. (http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/home-office-what-happens-to-eu-international-students-in-uk-after-brexit-a7132631.html ). Se non l’avete e pensavate che automaticamente eravate nell’NHS, beh sbagliato… Se siete ancora segnati all’ASL italiana e pensavate che ciò bastasse per garantirvi qualcos’altro oltre che i servizi di emergenza, beh sbagliato… Insomma, questa è stata una poco-pubblicizzata pugnalata alla schiena per tutti gli studenti. L’SFE (Student Finance England) pure garantisce i fondi per le tuition fees solo fino al compimento dell’anno universitario 2017/2018 per i cittadini EU. Io sono addirittura nel loophole di tale legge, perché sono sposata a un cittadino britannico il cui lavoro provvede assistenza sanitaria privata che copre pure me. Peccato che i cittadini britannici non sono compresi nella lista di chi può essere sponsor di uno studente EU!!! Quindi personalmente ho solo opzione di diventare cittadina britannica ma cosa succede a chi l’opzione non ce l’ha?

  • STUDENTI e LAVORATORI CHE SONO IN CORSO DI TRASFERIMENTO

Se non avete già in mano un contratto permanente con almeno 20-25,000 sterline lorde all’anno… scusate ma chi ve lo fa fare?? Perché’ la burocrazia italiana sembrerà un giochetto in confronto alla babele di documenti che dovrete presentare qui in UK da ora in poi. Non molto dissimile dai visti australiani, canadesi e statunitensi, VERO. Ma preparatevi a ciò da qui in avanti perché il Brexit è stato deciso in modo esponenziale dal voto che riguarda il fattore immigrazione dall’Europa. Questi controlli fanno felici i locali, che non vogliono essere invasi da gente non qualificata che (secondo loro) uccide il mercato del lavoro per i locali.

Se avete bisogno di ulteriori informazioni, commentate sotto l’articolo e provvederò un indirizzo email 🙂

Alla prossima,

Merlin

Brexit – The Disunited Kingdom

Hello followers,

Following the dramatic result of the referendum in UK this morning, my husband and I have agreed that we have to ‘change’ course. Here, many underestimated the presence of EU-related connections in Cumbria and the ugly truth is that many businesses involved with EU companies are already advising their employees ‘to look elsewhere’. Cumbrian voters, probably disregarding this notion or future prospect, have voted en masse for the Leave camp. Apart from strictly political positions, the vote has seemed like shooting ourselves in the foot, at least in the ‘northern powerhouse’ (something that Copeland MP Jamie Reed didn’t fail to point out in his Post-Brexit speech https://jamiereed.net/2016/06/24/referendum-result-i-will-work-night-and-day-to-ensure-that-the-plans-for-our-area-continue-and-that-our-prosperity-is-secured-jamie-reed-mp/).

I was born in Italy. After being the subject of rude remarks directed at me from locals in the past two weeks, I am aware that now that Brexit happened that could be a pattern of behaviour likely to be repeated in the future. Both my husband and I now feel uneasy at the thought of staying in a country that 1) utterly hates my guts 2) it might be not even united in the next two years.

Therefore, having taken in all the events from this morning at 4 am, I can quietly declare that… it’s time to change, it’s time to stop and think where our future lies. I am pretty sure it is not here, although I am aware it also hurts a bit. I am in pain because I wanted ‘this relationship’ to work out. I felt at home in UK and I had never felt unwelcome before last month, and I know that this country has given me more than the one I was born in in a shorter time.

Why do I feel to leave then?

  1. Because I now feel an alien and a bit shocked at all the hatred and xenophobia spouted by a large majority of the British electorate.
  2. Because I am now surrounded by a gang of British Empire nostalgic Little Englanders who want to make ‘this’ country great. Whose country is this though? Theirs, have they bought it from Westminster? And ‘this’ country includes… whom, in it? Not Scottish or Irish people who have quickly disowned the leave vote and started thinking about secession from the United Kingdom the moment the results were out. ‘This’ country does NOT represent them anymore either.
  3. Because they will never admit they have fucked it up this much and they will rather commit suicide all together than admitting defeat or being wrong

This morning my own husband felt ashamed to be British-born, he felt ashamed to associate himself with ‘those’ people, whatever he wanted to say with ‘those’. Brexit has opened a divide in the UK, not only Europe. It has opened a divide between British people, British residents of any nationality, EU citizens and non-EU citizens. There’s a lot of uncertainty and arguing going on, everywhere, whilst the stock markets will plunge down like they never did in decades.

Will it heal? Maybe, in 20-30 years. But I know that I won’t be here to see it, nor do I care.

See you soon on these pages though,

Merlin xxxx

 

 

 

 

Hospitality industry… modern day slavery?

I spent a few days thinking about writing about what’s wrong with the hospitality industry nowadays, from low wages and unfair treatment, even to the forced labour.

As my real life friends know, I decided to change career path later in life, after having spent nearly twenty years to work as an employee in different sectors. I always liked cooking and it seemed a good chance to seize when I got funding to do a pizza chef course at a school in Italy. The main problem is that I didn’t find a job at all after doing the course (I only did a training period in a shop), mainly because restaurant and pizzeria owners disliked the idea of having a nearly-40-year-old woman working as a pizza chef in the kitchen. So when I migrated to U.K. it came as a surprise to me to score two job interviews as a pizza chef in a short span of time. So everything ended up well? Not really. In both jobs I was supposed to serve up to 200 customers per night, working hours on end and…for 900 pounds a month, with no contract or payslips of course, so I had no insurance and nobody was paying my taxes… I said no and declined both offers, working illegally wasn’t in my plans.

When I moved to Edinburgh, I started to work as a housekeeper in hotels. Hourly pay was minimum wage but usually hours were from 4 to 6 a day and despite everything I was treated fairly by many supervisors. Still… working 25 hours a week was barely enough to pay the rent and bills… I started to focus on kitchen work again. I never went beyond a catering/kitchen assistant in schools and I only had the chance of preparing sandwiches, I never cooked at all… I washed lots of dishes, mopped floors and cleaned shelves though! How exciting 😉

I was told several times by the supervisors that to aim to a more permanent position or to be hired as a cook I needed a qualification more ‘complete’ than the ones I had already achieved. Therefore, I worked for a few summer months as a housekeeper full-time and saved a lot of money to pay for my year of training and school course as a commis chef.
I thought that after passing the exams and practical assignments with flying colours I could finally get a decently-paid job!! I was in for a few surprises……. I made a list of them… enjoy 😉

1) Kitchen/catering assistant positions.

Most catering/kitchen jobs advertised as part-time are on a rota. Some of them are defined “16 hours or less” but you’ll never get firsthand which days you’ll be working and how many hours a day. Consider that for your boss: a) you’ve no right to any social life because you accepted the ‘flexibility’ required by the job; b) you made yourself available to work for them… you think for 16 hrs, but they’ll feel free to call you whenever they like or they need you (maybe to replace someone who called in sick). If you say ‘no’ once, you’re fired.
* * *
I was hired in a coffee room after my graduation. The owner didn’t even know when you were supposed to work, she was scribbling on the rota minute-by-minute who was on that shift or the other, deleting people without their consent (who cares if they had made plans) and adding others in their place. I survived three weeks there, last straw was being called in the morning asking me to rush to the coffee room because she needed help… I was still in my pyjama! Of course, no contract and for three weeks of random hours I earned the staggering amount of £ 123….
At the moment I am working for another coffee room, where the job was advertised as kitchen/cook assistant. I don’t cook at all, there is not even a cooker, everything is cooked or prepared elsewhere. Great job for someone who graduated following Gordon Ramsay’s recipes books…… The rota isn’t as randomly decided as it was in the other one, but if the place is not busy, they send you home. Out of a 16/20-hrs a week job, I totalled 20 hrs… in nearly 3 weeks! Surely an income you can count on!

2) Nursing homes.

Stay away from catering/kitchen assistants and cook job positions in nursing home if possible…  I applied for two positions in two different nursing homes and nothing good ever came out of it!! The first one never called me back after the interview (while they had been so happy and keen at the moment of my application, delivered in person to the recruiter…), then 6 months later the recruiter called me again and… she asked me if I still wanted the job. I asked what had happened and she said “well you were studying at university and we tried everyone else, you’re the last one left”. Oooh thank you!! I replied that ‘no thanks, if the rota was interfering with my studies 6 months earlier, it surely does that now too’. This was a 16-hrs job, supposedly on weekends. That’s why I had applied for it! Of course, it wasn’t true. Second nursing home job ‘experience’… Get to be interviewed, recruiters (the permanent cook and the director) happy and keen to offer me the job straightaway.. yes, at the interview! I accepted, again a 16-hrs job position as a catering assistant. Needless to say, the job never happened! Maybe they conveniently hired someone else without saying anything to me… I don’t know, they actually never replied to phone calls or emails…

3) Commis chef jobs….

Hahaha ok, on the paper a commis chef is the lowest level in a professional kitchen. It is also someone who, one day, might be experienced and replace the head chef. There is just a problem…. everywhere, on every damn bloody advert in the country, the recruiters seek experienced commis chefs!!!!!!!!!!
So what’s the meaning of even attending a professional cookery course that teaches you everything about the profession but it is not considered enough to work? How am I supposed to leave school and a fulltime course with experience of two years at rosette level and also with good references?? (then NOT every restaurant/hotel would have rosettes anyway, would it??!?!?!!!).
Last but not the least, a commis chef is paid from 14,000 £ to 17,000 £ a year, depending on experience. Even though I was so lucky to score such a job, that would mean about 1,170 £ a month (gross net), and for 55-60hrs a week that would mean a hourly pay about 5.5/6 £. Such a hourly rate is less than minimum wage. It is also funny to hear that U.K. average salary is £ 26,500 a year…. Commis chefs with no rosette experience can aspire to approximately half of it. A shame, considering that you don’t do this job without passion and total dedication.

Therefore….. I can declare that having a job in the hospitality industry is the equivalent of being a modern slave, and if in some cases you’re treated fairly… you’re not a slave but you’re being exploited anyway.
In conclusion.. if you want a decent job, steer clear of the industry altogether or…open your own place and exploit someone else 😉

Cheers 🙂

Articles for further reading:

http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/news/2013/exploitation-staff-hotels-part-industry-wide-business-model-say-campaigners

http://www.tourismconcern.org.uk/swi.html