The other evening I was discussing the imminent Brexit consequences with a friend of mine and it dawned on me that the emotional implications of it were often overlooked. It makes sense to think that the practical, matter of fact aspects of it would ultimately overshadow the more personal elements, but what kind of personal toll does it take for the individual?
By trying to answer that question, I thought I’d try to examine my own situation – I hold dual citizenship – American (by birth) and British (for my father). Even though that is what the paperwork states, I came to Spain with my mother (who is Spanish), and my brother, after my parents got separated. Since I was almost 3 three-years old, I was immediately thrust into the life here – I breathed the Spanish air and shared life experiences and homework with Spanish children. I was like one of them. Or not quite – my last name, my Anglo features and my blond hair always set me apart from the rest. But on top of all that – or perhaps because of all that – I was constantly besieged by the question of where I was from, and to what extent I was from where I came from. I already dealt with the question of identity in another article, but with the Brexit looming on the horizon, I’ve come to face the inevitable dilemma of probably having to renounce my UK citizenship and become a Spanish national.
Renouncing nationality is a last resort for people whose livelihood is in danger and an extremely painful decision to make.Michael harris, chair of eurocitizens
In practical terms it probably never did make much sense for me to be British – I have never lived in the UK and due to my not being there, I have never felt really compelled to be exposed to issues pertaining politics and the economy- the things that any citizen should weigh in on – at least, to some extent, more or less casually. But, the truth is that up until now I never realized that my having a UK passport has served me as a reminder of where I come from. I do not have to demonstrate my Spanish ”essence” because it’s there. It’s within me. My culture is Spanish and I have a natural inclination to all things Spanish. I don’t need a document to support that feeling. My living in the US for a few years in my adult life has enabled me to view Spain and my own ”Spanishness” from outside, which has been very enriching. On the other hand, however, the UK means my father, and with the Brexit I have felt urged to examine that part of my identity – perhaps a little bit from outside, as well, like I had to do with my US self.
Despite the obvious differences, I am reminded of the Catalan separatist process – even though there may be undeniable economic consequences, it seems clear that for some Catalans the sentimental aspect of it outweighs the more practical, matter-of-fact components that an eventual ”divorce” from Spain may bring about.
You may be able to relate to this; particularly if you are British but you have put down roots here. It would be interesting to hear your perspective – would it be a problem for you to give up your British nationality or do you consider it a necessary evil? How will Brexit affect you personally?