‘A Swedish passport means more than a British one now’

'A Swedish passport means more than a British one now'
A Swedish passport. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT
It is now exactly a week since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. With that in mind, The Local spoke to British expats in Sweden on how they feel about the outcome of the vote, seven days later.

“The xenophobia and racism that has emerged since the vote is scary,” says Nazia Hussain, a Brit who works in Skellefteå, northern Sweden.

“I went back over to England because I’m graduating from university and was very cautious about going on public transport now. I’ll only drive. My husband says I’m paranoid but I just want to protect myself,” Hussain added.

Nazia says that after the Leave vote she now feels safer back in her adopted home of Sweden, and has started to look into the possibility of becoming a Swedish citizen.

“If I had a choice, I’d sell my property in the UK and go back to Sweden and stay there, but my mother isn’t very well. It’s a tough situation to be in. But if I had a choice I’d cut all ties with England now,” she said.

“I’ve been in Sweden for almost three years. I want to find out whether I can get Swedish citizenship. To me, the British passport is now worthless, and I don’t mean that in a nasty way. If you can’t use it in Europe anymore, what use is it? I won’t give it up, I probably want dual citizenship, but I think the Swedish passport is worth more now.”

Andrew Oldfield, another Brit that The Local spoke to, said he anticipated passport problems before the referendum even took place.

“I applied for Swedish citizenship two years before the referendum. The reason I did it is because I knew they were having a vote, and I thought there was a big risk Britain would vote to leave,” he explains.

“I’m also a British citizen with a British passport, but I wasn’t eligible to vote as I’ve been out of the UK for too long. My compatriots have voted me out of where I live, basically, which is a bit of a weird feeling.

Oldfield thinks that the way that both Britain and the EU have reacted in the aftermath of the vote leaves a lot to be desired.

“People aren’t looking for positive options, either at EU level or in Britain. Why can’t people sit down and think about the best options going forward? There are concerns about the EU in a lot of countries. Why can’t that be taken on board in some way so there is a way forward on how the EU is being run, rather than seeing it as a black and white?”

Craig Neilson, a Glasgow native living in Stockholm, says he still isn’t sure many Brits know exactly what they voted for.

“For me the biggest question is still why did we vote to leave? What was it that made them come to that decision? It seems like most people didn’t really know what they were voting for.”

His main worry in the aftermath of the Leave vote is how it could affect his family situation.

“I’m concerned as I have a family here in Sweden. I’m not married, but I have two kids,” he says, though he hasn't gone as far as applying for Swedish citizenship. 

“I don’t feel like I have to do anything drastic at the moment. It might take a couple of years. Hopefully within the next few months we’ll have an idea if anything will change. If Scotland’s situation will change.”