"Mere bargaining chips in a game of roulette"

09 August 2017

This story was sent to us by Änne Russell.

"I was born in Germany, went to school and university in Germany. I did my teacher training there, too. I lived for 27 years in Germany and for 36 year in the UK. My education was very much focused on Europe. It was of utmost importance to my teachers to make us familiar with European philosophy, literature and art and for us to learn foreign languages. I have spent most of my working life (36 years) in Tynedale, Northumberland. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to live and work in this country as a German national. I have always considered myself a “guest” and – I believe – acted accordingly. I have no intention of giving up my nationality, for the simple reason that I am German.

I am very grateful for a previous generation to have established the EEC and EU. Most of my uncles fell in World Wars I and II. The EU has brought 28 countries peacefully together.

I have asked myself if I deserve the privilege of living in the UK.

Here is a brief summary of my involvement in the community:

Working with other translators in the UK and in other countries (Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain); volunteer for BTCV (British Trust of Conservation Volunteers) mainly working in Allendale (mending fences, dry stone walling, repairing footpaths), volunteer at HMP Wealstun (teaching English), member of a jury at Newcastle Crown Court, member of Tynedale Volleyball club, member of North Tyneside Volleyball Club (played 2nd division National League), member of Hexham canoeing club, invited 5 German Erasmus students to study in Hexham for 3 months, played the violin (badly) in folk sessions at the Queens Hall and in The Miners in Acomb, member of an informal German conversation group which meets up every 2 weeks at Café Nero, member of the Alliance Française de Newcastle.

Here is a timeline to show that it took me at least 5 years to settle in this country.

Year 1 in UK: working as private tutor teaching German
Year 2: working as early morning cleaner at M&S in Newcastle
Years 3-7: working at Adtrack, the Pan-European Advertising Monitoring Service in Newcastle
Year 7: course at Northumbria University to become a qualified translator (Member of the Institute of Linguists), course at Gateshead College to teach in further and adult education
Year 8: started as self-employed translator, interpreter and language trainer
Year 20: set up limited company offering language services

Since 2003 I have been offering translation services to clients in the UK and abroad. Working with freelance translators based in Hexham and elsewhere in the UK, in other EU member states as well as in Egypt and Russia. My clients are based in Hexham, Northumberland, UK and Germany.

The effect Brexit has had on me was to realize how fragile and vulnerable my legal situation and my place in society is. From one day to the next and through no wrong-doing on my part, my legal standing has become utterly unsafe. I have no trust at all in the current government. All my trust in terms of my situation and the situation of other EU nationals in the UK and British citizens in the EU lies in the EU, the European Court of Justice and Michel Barnier.

I must have been one of the first generation to move freely as European and I feel that I have been “hijacked” by the UK. To use human beings who  - to use the words of politicians (and they have been used by politicians as mere words without content) - have tried to contribute to British society as mere bargaining chips in a game of roulette unfortunately has had a very negative impact on the respect and good will the UK once enjoyed."  

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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