In Limbo and In Limbo too – review and thoughts

Every day that we get closer to Brexit (currently set for 29.03.2019), I find myself becoming more and more frustrated at the general public’s apparent indifference to what is about to happen. I cannot understand how people can simply carry on as usual: Keep calm and carry on travelling along the Brexit conveyor belt until we all drop off the end at 11pm on 29th March? The thought of a no-deal scenario terrifies me, but any sort of Brexit deal that damages our future prospects (health, wealth and security) is bad enough.

Two books which have really helped to fuel my anger – if that were indeed needed – are IN LIMBO and its sequel companion IN LIMBO too. The first was published in 2017 (I gave a copy to my German husband for Christmas), and the second was published earlier this year. Having lived in Germany and Italy for a total of nearly 13 years, I was particularly affected by the second volume; but I know plenty of (non-UK) EU citizens living in Bath and have had enough conversations at our street stalls to understand the very real concerns that are described in the first volume.

The subtitle of IN LIMBO is ‘Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK’ and that of IN LIMBO too is ‘Brexit testimonies from UK citizens in the EU’ (EU27). Both books make for gripping reading, and together they illustrate the diversity and complexity of different individuals’ experience of being European. I’m in awe of so many of these people, and what they have lived through, both before and after the EU referendum of June 2016; these are all very moving personal stories.

The two books grew out of an idea from Elena Remigi, who is the Director of the In Limbo Project and has co-edited them. One of our Bath for Europe members, Véronique Martin, is the Associate Director of the In Limbo Project and the co-editor of the first In Limbo book. The second book was co-edited in association with the group Brexpats in Europe chaired by Debbie Williams. Here are two sample testimonies, one from each of the two volumes.

S. Parsons, (originally from) Italy

I am a 71-year-old Italian lady that has lived in this country for a very long time.

When in June of last year Brexit came about, I was shocked, saddened and disappointed but somehow hoped that something may change. Considering that it was all based on a lie, I hoped that common sense would prevail, alas no.

All my friends and acquaintances are people of my age or older, so I know that the mentality of some of them is still nostalgic of their imperialist past. It was impossible to make them understand my disappointment.

True I don’t have to worry about jobs now that I am retired. I don’t have to go through the great difficulty that young people have with the uncertainty of staying or leaving.

However, I feel I am surrounded by selfish, narrow-minded people with no interest in trying to understand what all this really means; on the contrary, they rejoice in thinking that they have got their country back. Maybe they are hoping to go back to the colonies.

I will have to learn to live with it but it is not going to be easy. It leaves me lonely and isolated, especially now that my husband is no longer with me. Back in Italy, I have no one left.

Ali H., (now living in) Spain

We have made Spain our home for the last 8 years and have always felt very welcome. We have a business here, our children are in the Spanish education system and are bilingual. They have both lived in Spain for longer than they lived in the UK. They have friends here, social lives, they are part of the local community. We are able to do all this thanks to the benefits of being EU citizens. We can conduct business between EU countries without cost thanks to shared agreements; groups from the UK can travel to Spain easily, without paperwork or visas and we can travel backwards and forwards between Spain and the UK for business and to visit family. Air fares are low and flights are frequent.

All this, our livelihood and lifestyle, are being put at risk by Brexit. We were devastated when the result became clear in the early hours of 24th June 2016, I thought I would never stop crying. Ever since then, for almost 2 years, we have been fighting the Remain cause in any way possible. It has taken over our lives. Our business is already suffering due to the drop in the value of the pound, and if freedom of movement stops or is restricted, and shared agreements are no longer available, it will have extremely detrimental effects and we will struggle to remain competitive. Worse still, we may be forced to leave the country we have come to love.

We will continue to fight to remain European and are determined that Brexit will not happen because we cannot envisage a life that does not involve being a part of this wonderful community that enriches life experience.

The books are self published and both available from Amazon UK and internationally. They are not-for-profit and any money made is spent buying more books to be sent to politicians and decision makers in Britain and the EU.

IN LIMBO. Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK. 2017. Edited by Elena Remigi, Véronique Martin and Tim Sykes.

IN LIMBO too. Brexit testimonies from UK citizens in the EU. 2018. Edited by Elena Remigi, Debbie Williams, Helen De Cruz, Sarah Pybus, Clarissa Killwick and Paul Blackburn.

Please get hold of these books, read them and share the stories they tell. We must not give up. So many individuals, who will be adversely affected by Brexit (if it goes ahead), were disenfranchised in the EU referendum. We must stand up for them and, of course, for ourselves.

Postscript: although there are already a few stories of British people in the UK in the books perhaps we should suggest a further IN LIMBO book – and create a trilogy – with the third volume being subtitled ‘Brexit testimonies from UK citizens in the UK’?

Ruth Malloy