“Honestly, we’ve been talking about moving to Scotland,” London-based Nicklas says. The Swede, who works in the travel industry in London, isn’t joking. The uncertain atmosphere in the wake of the Brexit vote has left many of his compatriots in the British capital considering their options, he claims, and a trip north is one option being touted.
“I've spoken with many Swedish and Scandinavian friends, and we’re all rooting for Scotland to leave the UK and join the EU,” he adds. “It could be a new frontier for business and innovation. We’ve talked about that. Why not move up a couple of hours and continue what we’re doing, but in another accent?”
Concerned about how commenting on Brexit may impact his employment prospects in the UK, Nicklas does not want to provide his full name. He says the victory for the Leave campaign has changed his opinion of the country he lives in.
“I now feel like people here don’t plan for the long term,” he notes. “Now nobody knows what will happen. Will we be kicked out? Will we have to apply for a visa?”
“I know friends who have British partners and were looking to buy property, but now nobody knows if we’re even allowed to be here in a few years.”
Nicklas was shocked when he saw the results of the referendum on Friday morning, but one Swede who was less surprised was engineer Aldus, who also does not want to provide his full name.
“I had mentally prepared myself for it. I wasn’t surprised at all if I’m completely honest,” the London resident says.
“I’m quite indifferent. Even though right now it’s very emotional, a lot of people are confusing emotions with what is really happening. I don’t see a lot changing in the long run. Immigration won’t change, people will still want to come to the UK, people will still want to go to Europe from the UK, and they will still want to do business with the country.”
Aldus explains that his laid-back reaction was a rare one among his Swedish friends in the UK, however.
“Only one Swedish person I know felt the same as me. Calm, let’s take a cautious approach. Others have been very angry, very scared. But they’re not going to be deported. It’ll take a few years to come into effect.”
One thing the engineer does think that Brexit could have a negative impact on is the price of his property in the UK.
“I have real estate in the UK, so I’m perhaps a bit worried about what may happen to house values,” he explains. “But in general I think my investment in the UK will be alright. Not great, but alright”.
Investment is also a big question for Swedish dentist Sara, who like Nicklas and Aldus, does not want to provide her full name. She says that the result of last Thursday’s referendum has put her plans to open a business in the UK on ice.
“Myself and my professor, who isn’t English by birth, were toying with the idea of setting up a practice together, investing to open a private practice. But now that’s completely shelved. We all fear a recession and don’t know how it will go,” she says.
Sara says that the UK’s decision to leave the EU left her shocked, and for EU nationals she knows, has created a feeling that they aren’t wanted in the country.
“It’s a mixture of disbelief, incredulity, and surreal sensations,” she recounts. “All the nurses and the majority of the dentists in our practice are non-UK passport holders, so there is a lot of disappointment. And a feeling that our hosts don’t really want us here.”
For Axel Lindman, who will graduate from Durham University this week before moving to London, that feeling of not being welcome was also prevalent.
“I think I was less surprised than my British friends, but my initial emotion was still disbelief. Then sadness and anger. It was the first time I didn’t feel welcome in the UK,” he says.
The Swede will soon start a job in London as a consultant, but says his future in the UK now looks a lot more uncertain than it did before.
“We’ll see how it plays out. I can tell you one thing, the result has made me less keen to stay in England. The US, Germany, or even back home to Sweden looks more appealing than before,” he concludes.