David Barriocanal, engineer: “Neither foreigners nor English know what will happen after leaving the EU”
He arrived in Great Britain, more specifically London, at the end of November 2014 and has been living in the country since August 2015. This 28-year-old industrial engineer from Burgos lives with expectation the current situation in the country, immersed in the first days of Brexit and in a resurgence of the pandemic that has forced confinement measures in homes and offices to be extreme. “I haven’t noticed many changes in our life after January 1, maybe a little later when new laws come into force. As a foreigner I even have more benefits than the British, because I can enter and leave the country without any problem.
David’s status in Britain is ‘pre-settled’, having arrived in London before Brexit was voted on and entered into force. He has an English Social Security number and a recognized residence, which opens a period of 5 years to settle permanently and reside and work normally.
“Neither foreigners nor English know what will happen with Brexit, although the Government is explaining the changes. I believe that in the end it will be the practical cases, the day to day, those that clarify where we are going. I have not had any problems and the Spaniards I know have had difficulties traveling. The airports are already prepared to serve visitors from the European Union.
‘Great Britain is a country of mixed feelings. Many with whom I have spoken were in favor and many others against, especially in London. Still, people generally share and also highly respect opinions. I believe that when they voted almost 5 years ago they did not know the real scope of what they were deciding.
David has done essential work during lockdowns and has discovered a car-free British capital. «From the hour and ten it took from my house to work, I have managed to reduce the journey to 35 or 40 minutes with no one on the streets. It was very strange to see Oxford Street, usually very busy, with perhaps two people in sight.
The fate of this engineer, he acknowledges, is where his work takes him. «I will have to travel a lot in Europe and tie the fair ones. Perhaps Brexit in a certain way has benefited us foreigners who were already here since it will allow us to move with relative ease, although it will affect others who want to come later to develop professionally. From now on, to settle and work in the UK you will need a much more restrictive point visa than the one used in Australia or New Zealand.
Marta Torres Peña, film wardrobe assistant: “The country is closed and the hospitals are saturated”
This 31-year-old from Burgos [en la foto con su pareja Theo Cobb], registered in London for 8 years, works making costumes for actors in movies and television series. Since March, he has been tested for coronavirus several times a week so that his company’s activity maintains maximum normality. “With the confinement, people have seen all the series and movies and we have to keep making new ones,” he jokes from his home in London, from where he teleworks these first days of the year.
“We have not had time to assimilate Brexit because everything is paralyzed with the pandemic. I’m afraid it will take another 3 or 4 months for people to start noticing changes. Despite this, Marta notes a great disappointment among the people: “Everything they had promised they were going to achieve, they have not achieved and those who voted for Brexit are angry.”
This worker from the world of culture is waiting for an agreement to be reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union so that artists can move freely between both territories, a visa for artists (actors, musicians, etc.). “We work a lot in Europe and in different settings.”
There is no party in London, schools have been closed this week until mid-February and only essential employees are supposed to be allowed to work. “I telecommute because I was in Spain at Christmas and I have to serve the ten-day quarantine after arriving in Great Britain.” In his case, no test was done because he has not been asked for a PCR to return. “You can take a test when you arrive but when the results arrive you have already been confined for 8 days and that after paying almost 200 pounds for the test.”
The health situation has caused that many Spaniards have not returned and telework from Spain. “The daily infections are much higher than in March and even the hospitals use the ambulance fleets as rooms because they are overflowing.”
César Liz, documentary photographer: “I think there is a great lack of foresight with Brexit”
This documentary photographer has lived and worked in London for over 10 years. He recognizes that the capital is multicultural and the mentality there is very open. “I don’t think they themselves expected Brexit to go ahead. Many now would change their minds and say ‘no’ to a proposal that I believe was loaded with falsehoods.
The country, admits César, a 54-year-old from Burgos, is poorly organized and had no foresight or instructions on how to approach this new stage. And all this has been joined by the health emergency in recent days.
This professional has permanent residence in the United Kingdom and his plans are to continue. César Liz has a job closely linked to cultural life, in fact he has photographed many exhibitions in London museums and has made many documentary reports, “a subject that has been cut for a year due to the pandemic.”
«I think the country loses with this project because it depends on Europe. Many workers have stopped going to the UK, others have left and there are companies that have done the same.
“I foresee bad times and I do not rule out that Brexit will be reversed in the future, in fact Scotland and Northern Ireland are claiming their permanence in Europe, although there are also British who defend a future outside Europe.”
Manuel Óscar Labarga, computer engineer: “The City of London will not suffer a decline”
He has lived in the United Kingdom since September 1, 2015, although his relationship with this country comes from his student stage. Former IBM professional, he now works for a Silicon Valley telecommunications company that has an office in the City of London, although since mid-March he has teleworked due to health restrictions. In fact, he’s in Madrid now “and I’m in no rush to go back. One of my daughters studies there and the schools are closed.
When he arrived in the British Isles, recalls Manuel, 54, Brexit was a “long shot” and the referendum was not expected to go through. “Since then there have been 4 years of great uncertainty but, for foreigners, the worst way out was a ‘no agreement’, which has not happened.” Manuel already has permanent residence and regardless of what happened, he could have continued working in the United Kingdom or returned to Spain for one or two years and returned again. “The problem is for those who come from now on, who enter the immigration system by points.”
‘Brexit with agreement is seen with some relief, although people are realizing that there are things that are not so obvious, such as the fact that the British and their children will not be able to work or study easily elsewhere from countries of the European Union. They wanted to solve some issues, like the collapse of their healthcare system, and many doors have been closed.
Manuel considers, however, that London will continue to be “very attractive” to work with, because it is still close to Europe and his native language is English. “They say that part of the financial sector activity is starting to leave the United Kingdom but I believe that the City will not suffer a decline and will only be affected with multinationals that are not British.”
The start of 2021 is worrisome. “Confinement seems stricter than that of March and April because in the United Kingdom it was more relaxed than in Spain. Everything joins the uncertainty with Brexit, because the agreement has not left everything well defined and problems will arise.