This week I affirmed my allegiance and loyalty to the United Kingdom at my Citizenship Ceremony. I joined new citizens with a rich variety of backgrounds: French, Portuguese, Australian, American, German, Indian and many others. It was the end, or perhaps better, beginning of a new journey, which started when I moved to London over 12 years ago.
Like many of the other participants at the Citizenship Ceremony I made the decision to become British for both emotional and practical reasons. For me this is a positive choice and an emotional commitment: London is my home, I got married to a Brit and my son is British. But following the decision to leave the European Union this also became a practical decision as the certainty, the foundation of my right to remain, suddenly fell away.
This is not just an issue of bureaucracy and filling in papers, this is about the lives of millions of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the rest of Europe. It is real, as one Dutch woman found out when she was told to prepare to leave the UK after 24 years.
Receiving my British Citizenship Certificate
I respect the outcome of the referendum. After all upon becoming a British citizen I pledged to “uphold its [UK] democratic values.” But people should not underestimate the uncertainty that Brexit brings to families and businesses across the country. People voted to leave the EU, but this is not straight forward.
The practical implementation of this mandate now sits with our representatives in Parliament. The question of how we leave and what partnership we put in place will shape the future of our country. Lots is at stake for the City of London, and the next four years will be crucial in shaping its future on the global stage. There are challenges, and there will be opportunities, but we need to make sure we get the best Brexit deal possible.
Reflecting after the ceremony there was one thing the registrar said, which stuck in my head. She said that Britain is built on tolerance and respect. Sadly too often politicians seem to forget this. This is why as a citizen I am determined to play my part.