Brexit voices: ‘I remain optimistic that sanity will prevail’

Brexit voices: 'I remain optimistic that sanity will prevail'
Theresa May talking to EU leaders, including Sweden's Stefan Löfven (right) at an EU summit. Photo: AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
OPINION: Despite the risk of a no-deal Brexit looming large, Michael Henry is confident that EU and UK leaders will find a way to work together on a reasonable outcome.

I am a Brit living in Sweden. I moved from the UK to Stockholm two years and three months ago with the intention of remaining here permanently. After spending several years visiting both Sweden and Norway I decided that I loved it here very much and so when an opportunity presented itself through my company, which is based in Stockholm, I took it.

I had already made the decision and arrangements to move before the ill-fated Brexit vote in June 2016 and I left the UK three weeks later. The choice by Britain to leave the EU came as quite a horrendous shock, but I assumed that as I was leaving nearly one year before the UK had even triggered the Article 50 mechanism, it would not affect me.

I still operate under the assumption that whatever happens, deal or no deal, those who were here as permanent residents (on the population register) early enough would never be asked to leave or lose rights that they were already entitled to under EU free movement.

People who have already made huge life decisions with their families, employment, health care, finances and nationality based on currently existing rules and rights should not suddenly have those rules and rights swept out from under them. That in my mind would be devastating to a large number of people, not only for those Brits living in Sweden, but those living in other European countries and those EU citizens within the UK.

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But the risk of a no-deal scenario looms larger now and with that greater uncertainty. Too much now rests on the politics under which all of us affected no longer have any control. Unfortunately, there exist dark and very nationalistic forces in the UK and all over Europe who seem focused on the destruction of the EU. Those within Britain, who have too loud a voice within the Tory party, are making the controlled departure more difficult and the danger of a dangerous, contentious no-deal more possible as the time runs out.

But I remain optimistic that even in the worse case of a no-deal Brexit that at least I would expect all those countries in the EU to work together on the arrangement and sanity will prevail with respect to currently resident British citizens. I would expect the UK to do the same, but have less confidence in that, since they would then be more inclined to act alone.

Probably the answer will come by November as the time is now certainly running out. I think the picture painted by those who are seriously thinking about a no-deal outcome is pretty bleak for the UK and the EU – so again I am still optimistic that sanity will prevail and those negotiating will choose something reasonable over choosing to walk into a global-scale disaster.

Written by Michael Henry, a physicist and engineer who works in the medical technology industry in Stockholm. Are you a Brit in Sweden who would like to share your thoughts about Brexit? Email [email protected].

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