Archives for category: Uncategorized

It was the 2nd of July around 9.40 pm. I had convinced my movie loving 14 year old to watch the ‘ Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ – I wanted to show her what a fantastic actor the recently departed Michael Nyqvist was , and how brilliant this movie is. She likes horror movies, so this particular movie would be like a Disney film to her !

We had switched off the lights and only tv lit up the living room. Suddenly we hear this loud ,roaring car outside, and someone tried to open our frontdoor, which opens up straight into the living room. I assumed that it was our neighbour coming back from the pub, having taken an uber back, trying to get into the wrong house …it wouldn’t have been the first time ! We dismissed it. But moments later we hear the door handle being frenetically pulled up and down. Before we could process what was going on, these two young men , probably in their 20’s, barged in to our living room, using a crowbar to break in !

It was as if time froze in that moment. All I could think was ‘ This cannot be happening ! What the fuck are these fuckers doing in our house ??? They are not coming in here !’. So I ran towards the door screaming on the top of my lungs, followed by my teenage daughter who did the same. The burglars took a step back, a big enough step to let me slam the door shut on them, before locking the door.

My daughter kept shouting ‘ Call the police, call the police, call the police !’. But thanks to the useless reception in this particular area (and no thanks to Vodafone) , it took us several minutes to actually be able to make that call. When I finally got through I was naturally in a state of panic. The ever so lovely call handler at the police said firmly – If you don’t calm down ,I will not speak to you !’ (great people skills. I could appreciate that it was hard to hear what I was saying,but a gentler tone of voice may have helped at that particular moment) . She told me that the police would be around within minutes. I rang a neighbour who came around to keep us company until the police came. One whole hour went by…nothing ! So I rang the police again…they had never logged the first call. And they knew that I was alone in the house with my child at the time of the break in – my partner was abroad working.

The police eventually came,and couldn’t have been kinder.But apart from one more flying visit by one of their colleagues and a forensic officer…that was pretty much it.

I rang victims support as I knew that my daughter would need help in overcoming what had just happened. I was full of adrenaline, so didn’t even look at the faces of the burglars, but my daughter looked on of them straight in the eye…

The night of the break in, we stayed over at her friend’s place. My daughter had been on the phone to her afterwards, and her friend’s father offered us his sofa bed for the night. But the next night we were back in the house, and we did not feel safe despite leaving all the lights on, putting a heavy wooden chest in front of the locked front door, sleeping in my bed, with another heavy wooden chest in front of the bedroom door.

My partner returned and sorted out an alarm, we were also informed that our frontdoor was indeed very safe. The problem is that we only locked the door by pulling the door handle up from the inside, which makes it impossible for anyone outside to get in…unless they use a crowbar ,that is ! Had we locked the door with the key, like we do every single night before going to bed, then they would not have managed to enter via the front door – the hatches on the door hooks into the frame of the house, so it would have been pointless trying to break in.

But we never felt safe being in the living room at night,we never felt safe sleeping at night – what if they tried to come back ? What if someone else tried to break in ? Any sound, even a knock on the door, a passing car, would make us jump.

A week or so after , there was a knock on the door. Well,not really a knock, the person was violently slamming our letterbox, then he went away. Before I got to check who it was through the window, he returned and did the same thing again.  My daughter who was int he livingroom with me literally flew upstairs in panic, thinking that the burglars might have returned! Through an open window, I asked who he was and what he wanted . He replied ‘ I am from British Gas, I need to check your meter !’. I explained to him ‘ It’s under the staircase, so I will call it in’. He insisted on coming in, and I repeated what I had just said, adding ‘ We just had a break in, and I don’t feel comfortable in letting anyone in’. The meter reader shouted back ,adding a laugh at the end ‘ So what the fuck has your break in got to with me ?!? Ha ! Now, let me check the meter !’. I told him I would not let him in, and he went mad ! I looked out of the window as he was cussing at me in West Indian. My neighbours saw him walking down the road, and thought he was just a madman, shouting out randomly as he walked off with a face like thunder. So.I reported him to British Gas who confirmed that he was working for them. A few hours later I logged on to my tele class as I was doing an evening course. I heard this rattling sound outside as I was trying to listen to my tutor. I looked out and saw these two teenage girls trying to steal my daughter’s bike  ! I banged on the window, and the girls scarpered ! My daughter was in tears…this was the third incident to have happened in the space of a week or so ! No wonder she did not feel safe, and did I feel safe ? No !

I burst into tears randomly, I had nightmares. My daughter could not relax either, and I asked her teachers to please keep an eye on her ,informing them all about what happened the morning after the break in.

Luckily we had two holidays coming up, one week in Sweden and one week in Italy. As our plane left Stansted for Stockholm , I noticed that tears were flowing down my face. I didn’t even know that I was crying until I felt that wetness on my cheeks. The stress of the past weeks was slowly coming out. Then the same thing happened again as we stood on the ferry taking us to Djurgarden in Stockholm…out of nowhere I burst into tears. Ever since that break in, we had not been able to relax at all, we had not had a proper night’s sleep, we had not felt safe at any time of day when in the house. Now finally, we could let go. But my daughter had bottled things up far more than I had thought. We had discussed what had happened almost daily, and my partner and I were doing all we can to make her feel safe again. But it does not matter how safe you make a house or what you say after a break in…the trauma is in your mind, no matter how much you try to push it out.

We were sat at a restaurant in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, with my sister and her family, when suddenly my daughter couldn’t breathe. We thought she may have had an allergy attack as she ran to the bathroom, trying to throw up. My partner took her outside,and I now worried that it may be an asthma attack – she had had a few many years ago, and maybe all that stress she had been under, had brought one on ? Should we call the ambulance ? What’s the number ? We’re in Sweden now, not the UK…is it 999? Or 90000 ? My partner recognised that it was a panic attack , and as I ran out after them, I saw in his eyes that he was dealing with it with a calm that I could not have managed , just what she needed to help her breathe slowly and calm down. They stood on the pavement hugging, he was calming her down with his words and his actions, and slowly but surely, her very rapid heart beat slowed down, as did her breathing. My sister and her family came out, and my sister distracted my daughter with cracking some jokes and telling her some stories. My daughter was feeling full of nausea with the shock, but we found a quiet cafe to sit down and give her some time to recover. This panic attack was all because of the stress caused by the break in, and the aftermath of it .

We went to Italy the following week, and had a wonderful time, really enjoying ourselves. We finally managed to really let ourselves go and relax after all the trauma that we had been through. Towards the end of the holiday, we were staying with my partner’s mother on the 4th floor. My daughter had my partner’s mother’s dog with her in her room. My partner and I were drifting off as we heard my daughter’s horrified screams . My partner ran into her room and I followed. We had no clue what had happened, but my daughter was shaking like a leaf, crying hysterically.  Her bedroom door had opened with a loud sound (it was a strong breeze coming from the window that had caused it, I’d think ) , but that sound caused my daughter to suffer with flashbacks from the break in. She heard people talk outside, and it did not matter that we were on the 4th floor…in her mind they were right outside the room. That night she slept with me, holding me so hard …I could feel that huge fear she had.

Back in London ,my partner increased our security even further. We now have cameras alerting us to anyone coming near our house. But my daughter has not managed to sleep in her own room yet out of fear. I have chased up Victims Support again. Turns out they had no records of my previous calls (just like the police previously !) . But this time I spoke to a very supportive man who has promised my daughter to get her counselling for PTSD.

You feel absolutely helpless as a parent when you cannot help your own child. You feel helpless when you cannot make them feel safe in their own home. Your heart feels as if it is being torn out when you see their hurt and fear.

These burglars may not have taken any of our possessions, but they took away our ability to feel safe in our own home. And as someone who practice buddhism and believes in the power of karma , I truly hope that they will suffer for the pain that they have inflicted on my daughter, our family, and all the other families that I am sure that they have also hurt.

Advertisements

Isn’t it funny how certain songs can trigger memories that you otherwise would never had remembered ? Back in 1989 I was a 15 year old moody teen, sitting in the living room in a Stockholm suburb ,watching MTV’s ‘ Headbangers Ball’ with Vanessa Warwick. Suddenly this song came on that totally blew my mind, the intro stopping me in my tracks and then came THAT voice that send shivers down my spine and covered my body in goosebumps. That song was ‘ Louder Than Love’ by Soundgarden.

From that moment on I left the love of poodle rock bands like Poison behind, and became a firm grunge convert. Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Nirvana became the soundtrack to my teens, but also to my twenties, thirties, and still in my early 40’s, my love for the songs that these bands wrote live on as strong as ever.

I got to see ‘Alice In Chains’ live in 1993 in London, and got to meet Layne Staley courtesy of one of their crew who did the lights or sound on the tour (my memory is failing me in old age)  He wanted to impress me ,I suppose, by introducing me to Layne. I felt very awkward as I didn’t want to be mistaken for a groupie (which I was sure there was plenty of ). I loved the band’s music, but that was as far as it went. And besides, meeting your musical heroes can be a great disappointment. What if they were complete a**holes ? Then your favourite songs would become tainted. But I went along as my Italian friend Marina ,aka the firecracker, was throwing a hissy fit  and said she would never forgive me if she didn’t get to meet Layne, and all because of me !

We went into this room backstage and there were lots of people. I can’t remember who was in there. All I can remember was being introduced to a woman in their entourage, their manager possibly ? And next to her sat Layne. I felt that I had no business being there, not because anyone made me feel that way, but because it was a very surreal situation to me. I knew this band’s songs inside out, they were in my life almost daily, but I didn’t know them. Why should I be here ?

I recall being taken aback at how very fragile Layne looked , he looked cold, he was shivering, think I recall him being wrapped in a blanket. Marina was in her element, but I really couldn’t see the point in being in that room, and I left. I wanted to continue listen to this band’s songs as I always had, I didn’t want to know what they were like as people, their music meant too much to me.

The following year , Kurt Cobain took his own life. Nirvana was no more. In 2002, Layne dried of a drugs overdose. I was devastated. In 2011 Alice In Chains former bass player Mike Starr died, also of a drugs overdose. Then yesterday came the news that completely shook me…

I picked up my phone to check my Facebook notifications when I saw that my sister had posted a Swedish news article ,and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I had to re-read the headline again and again, before I Googled it, just to see if it was a very sick hoax. Both my partner and I work from home. I walked up the stairs in shock ‘ Nooooo! Nooooo ! Noooooo ! This can’t be right, it just can’t be, this isn’t happening!’. My partner asked what had happened . I replied ‘ Chris, Chris Cornell…he…he is dead !’.

The tears came out of nowhere, I was stunned, I was devastated, heartbroken. I was sad when David Bowie died, I was very sad when Prince passed away. But Chris Cornell ? I was shell shocked ! It felt very strange to be so deeply affected by the passing of someone who I had never met, but he had been in my life for 27 years. All the memories that Soundgarden’s songs trigger in my mind, happy memories, sad memories, memories spanning over 2.5 decades. I remember being that moody teen who wanted to escape my life. Not in a morbid sense, I had a very happy home life, but school was a living hell for a bullied teen, and all I wanted to do was to escape and build a new life somewhere where no one knew me. And when I did just that by moving to London at 19, Soundgarden was still with me, getting me through it all with their songs. In my 20’s I went through some difficult times when I was in a very toxic relationship, Soundgarden was still there in the background . And my love for their music stayed with me throughout my 30’s and into my 40’s, their songs playing in my ears on my Spotify playlist when I go for walks.  If you need to let of stress ? Go on a  very brisk walk with ‘ Jesus Christ Pose’ blasting through your earphones, I guarantee it will help !

So that is why it hits you so hard when one of your favourite artists pass away. You didn’t know them, but their music is part of the soundtrack to your life, creating memories that will forever remain with you.

To find out the cause of Chris Cornell’s death made his passing all the more tragic. To feel so incredibly low that you cannot see a way out is unthinkable to many of us. My heart is breaking for him, and for his family who is left behind .

May you now rest in peace Chris Cornell. Thank you for being a great part of the soundtrack to my life.

FROM TODAY, I’M ONLY PASSING THROUGH

I now live in a country, which officially does not have my interests at heart. The government has decided to use my presence here in the UK as a means to negotiate a better ‘deal’. Let’s get it straight: from today I’m a little chunk of bargaining fodder, not a person made of flesh and bone, not a life entrenched in the tapestry of this country for over thirty-two years.

Yesterday I called this country ‘home’. ‘Home’ is about respect, about belonging, about feeling safe and valued, about being one hundred per cent welcome. But I don’t feel welcome anymore. I’ve been spat in the eye, stabbed in the back, lied to and lied about.

Thanks for asking (no one ever asks), but no, I don’t feel safe or valued anymore. I won’t be able to call this country ‘home’ again. It’s a broken home and it’s breaking my heart. From today, it’s just a place I live in. I’m only passing through.

I’m a foreign tree in the garden of England, my roots uprooted, my branches broken, my leaves dying.

I applied for Permanent Residence on November 4th ,2016 and finally received my Permanent Residence certificate on February 22nd 2017. The months of waiting were some of the most stressful times of my life. I have been through some truly difficult times in the past, but this situation was completely different as I felt that mine and my family’s future in this country was at stake. Don’t believe that nonsense that you automatically qualify for Permanent Residence after 5 years. It really is not that simple. You have to prove that you have exercised your treaty rights, and in my case I had genuine fears that my application would be refused. For all but one of my qualifying years I was a lone parent, and had to receive some public funds although I was running a business. Renting a home in London is expensive at the best of times, but add to that the cost of bringing up a child and being the sole breadwinner. I was convinced that for these reasons, I would not qualify for PR. The amount of documentation that I had to provide as I am self employed was frankly ludicrous. Gathering the actual documentation to send with my application took weeks.

Back to the waiting…the endless waiting. The first few months were fine. I did not expect to hear anything for the first 3 months. Then in January and beyond, post after post popped up in various Facebok groups by fellow EU citizens receiving their PR after having applied only 3-4 weeks earlier . What had happened to my application ? Had it been forgotten about and left at the bottom of the pile ? I received messages from other people in my situation who were frantic with worry, who couldn’t sleep, who couldn’t eat, who were close to tears 24/7 as they kept seeing these same posts and wondered why they were still waiting for theirs when they had applied before me or around the same time as me. You try to put the constant worrying out of your mind, because you know that it’s not healthy. And you think that you are managing relatively fine until you hear a knock on the door and there’s the postman asking you to sign for a parcel…but it’s not That parcel. So your heart sinks again and those damn worries return with full force yet again. Not that they ever went away, you just pretended that they weren’t there.

One night it went so far that I actually dreamt that I received my PR.  I woke up in the morning thinking I had lost the plot ! I told my partner about my dream, and as I did, I saw the Royal Mail van pull up outside our house, and there was a knock on the door, and I was told to sign for the parcel…FINALLY there it was ! But I was frightened to open it in case my application had been refused…what would we do then ? Where would we go if I couldn’t stay here ? Because I for one had absolutely no faith in the government’s guarantees that EU citizens living here for the minimum of 5 years would be able to remain. After all, the referendum win was built on nothing but lies. So with my partner standing next to me, I opened the parcel with hands trembling like leafs. I saw this letter but I didn’t see a certificate. I read the letter, expecting to see those words “Your application’s been refused on the grounds of…”. But it said “You now have a right of permanent residence in the UK”. It didn’t quite sink in . I looked through the documents,and there it was…that blue card that I had waited so long for and never thought that I’d get. Tears of relief came instantly ,the weight of Mount Everest had just came off my shoulders . This is not a dramatic exaggeration as you will know if you are a fellow EU citizen who has been worried sick about whether or not you would qualify for PR. After all we hear almost daily of EU citizens who has had their applications refused for the most ludicrous of reasons, even though they have been settled and working here for decades, in some cases. I finally feel like some kind of normality has been restored into mine and my family’s life. I will still have to go through the process of applying the citizenship process and that entails, but at least I’m a step on the way.

But many of my fellow EU citizens can’t get onto that very important first step of getting PR as they don’t qualify. They may be women who are married to British men, and who are staying at home, raising their children, thus not exercising their treaty rights unless they have CSI. And who actually knew about these requirements until after the referendum ? Who were actually told about them ? And why weren’t they told about them ? Then there are all the EU students who also don’t qualify for PR for the very same reasons. Then we have the case of Bruno Pollet, as told by The Guardian .The Home Office told him its decision to refuse his application was because during his 25 years in the UK he had spent three years in South Africa, as part of his professional development as a scientist. This simply does not make any sense whatsoever ! Now Bruno and his family are relocating to a Scandinavian country where  his specialism in renewable energy can be harnessed. A great loss to this country, but a great gain for the Pollet’s family’s new home country. Britain will continue to lose a huge amount of exceptionally talented and hard working EU citizens who have been contributing to this country in so many ways. This country would not survive without us, and I don’t think this is in anyway a bold claim. How many Brits would do seasonal work ? How many Brits would work in coffee shops ? And where would the NHS  be without all their EU staff ? I could go on and on and on. We contribute to the British society in so many ways ,not just financially. But by treating us like bargaining chips, by treating us like second class citizens who don’t really belong here, this country will cause irreparable damage ,not just to it’s economy, but to it’s global reputation.

I am very worried to what will happen to so many of my fellow EU citizens. Not just those who has been refused PR, also but those who cannot even apply because they haven’t been living here long enough .I know fellow EU citizens who are too afraid to visit their families in case they won’t be let back into the country again upon their return. And it saddens me greatly that there is nothing that I can do to reassure them . But there is one thing that could be done NOW to stop these worries and anxiety that so many EU citizens are experiencing. Something that should have been done as soon the referendum result was announced. The only DECENT thing to do…to unilaterally grant  EU citizens the rights to remain in the UK post Brexit , a move  backed by British expat organisations in the EU. But the chances of this actually happening before the triggering of Article 50 seems very slim indeed, because in the eyes of Theresa May and her government, we are not people, we are simply bargaining chips.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope it is appropriate to post this message here, if not do feel free to remove it. This is my answer to Theresa May’s question about her 12 point plan on her FB page (why not leave her yours too?):

“I have no faith at all in your plan, Mrs May. It reads to me like a lot of empty words and promises, and nothing you’ve done or said so far has inspired me with any trust or optimism. Actually, it’s the exact opposite.
Britain, the tolerant and open country I have loved dearly ever since I arrived here in 1984 as one of the very first Erasmus exchange students, has changed beyond recognition within the space of a few months. The deeply divisive and disingenuous Leave campaign led by cynical politicians and right wing newspapers has been followed by your equally divisive and disingenuous government. You have betrayed tolerant Brits and non-Brits alike in embracing the current anti-immigration narrative to cover your party’s lack of care and investment in this country and its people. In doing so, you have served your own and your party’s political interests instead of the country’s interests.

Thirty odd years ago, I was warmly invited to build my life here. I was told it was my home from home. I was told I could settle down, marry a Brit and make my life here. Yet today I am told I’m a bloody foreigner and should go back where I come from. Things have got so bad that many of my fellow EU citizens hardly dare to speak their own language on the streets for fear of being insulted or attacked. Our very own identity is being challenged, our future, our life. And never, not once, have you as the PM stood up against this hatred, although you have been formally warned about it by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. You may believe that dividing is the way to conquer but it is not, Mrs May. You are destroying what has made Britain so special, what has made Britain great: its soft power, a mixture of charm, tolerance, creative spirit and openness. And you have encouraged the massive rift that is now tearing your country apart, destroying friendships, families and even couples.

You call yourself a Christian. I am a Christian too. Never have I read anywhere that Christ encouraged lies, hatred or divisiveness. He opened his arms and heart to all who were in need, and I can’t help feeling that refugees would be his first concern these days, instead of rich people who try to evade taxation. Your decision to leave the single market and your threats to turn Britain into a tax haven betray both the 48% of remainers but also many of the people who voted to leave the EU but not the single market and who didn’t think immigration was bad for the country (which of course, as you well know and have said yourself in the past, is not the case).

I’m sure you will not read my comment but if ever you do, please stop using the term “the will of the people” to support your open hostility or your glib promises to the Brits that voted to remain in the EU (virtually half of the referendum votes) and to the Brits who are married to EU citizens. Stop pretending you care about the fate of EU citizens here or UK citizens in the EU, while you are ready to use human lives as bargaining chips and you approach the EU (you have decided unilaterally to leave) with boasts and threats.

Remember please, Mrs May, that you are not the PM the people have elected. Remember too that the xenophobes you are blindly serving are thankfully not the majority in this country. And, finally, remember that when the people who support your UKIP inspired agenda realise it leads to more hardship and was all a lie, you will be very much in their firing line.”

How do I feel ? Tired, very tired. Tired of  worrying, tired of living in limbo, tired of hearing ,albeit well meaning, Brits telling me ‘ You will be fine. Don’t worry ! Nothing will change for you. You may have to apply for a visa , but that’s it ! And you have a half British daughter and a British partner too..nothing will happen to you !’ . I wish it was that simple ! The future of EU citizens in the UK is still very much uncertain. There are various speculations about what may and may not happen, but let’s be clear about the facts here…there are no facts, there are no reassurances.

Prior to the referendum , we all thought that after 5 years of living in the UK, we’d all be automatically eligible for Permanent Residence, because that is what we were told. Little did we know that when seeking confirmation of our Permanent Residence, that many of us, a whole 30% of us in fact, would be refused Permanent Residence. There was this little know issue of CSI , something that all students and stay-at-home mothers must have in order to be exercising their treaty rights.  I read just today that an 18 year old man born and raised in Britain to Italian parents was refused Permanent Residence as he is a student and does not have CSI ! For crying out loud…No one was informed about this !  Others were turned down for other reasons, reasons that really does not make any sense at all. I contacted the Home Office under the Freedom Of Information act in order to get a breakdown of the reasons of why my native Swedes for example, have the highest refusal rate of all EU applications applying for Permanent Residence. But this information could not be provided.

How do you think it feels to be refused Permanent Residence ?  It is beyond devastating . Many people turned down has lived in the UK for decades , they have British children and British spouses. ‘ But they are safe !’ I hear you say. No, they are not ! Being the parent of a British child, or being married to a Brit makes no difference whatsoever in the eyes of the law. The stress, worry and anxiety that these people are feeling about theirs and their family’s future has such a detrimental effect on their health and their lives, and that of their family’s too. Children are asking their mum or dad if Mummy or Daddy will have to leave the country. Couples are having to re-think their whole lives and their futures, just in case they will be forced to leave. I recollect a German lady visiting Germany with her family, enquiring what help may be available to her and her British husband and children, should they have to re-locate to Germany, and I was so touched by the response they received. They were told that there was a whole support network set up to help Germans returning to Germany, including free Skype German lessons to her British husband as well as any support that they could possibly need, should they decide to make that move. But for those who do not have the option to move for very valid reasons, they have to live with that stress of knowing that they do not have an option. They don’t see why they should have to uproot their family and move to their native country that they left perhaps decades ago ,especially not if their partner and children are British and cannot speak another language. I belong in that latter category myself. I have a half British teen born and raised in the UK who is choosing her GCSE’s, she’s excelling at school, all her friends are here, her father is here, and she can’t speak any Swedish.  My partner is half British/Half Italian, and his business, just as mine, is here in the UK. Our lives are here ! But now the cloud that is hanging over us is ‘ Will my Permanent Residence application be successful ? What will we do if it’s not ?’ . I am trying to put this worry to the back of my mind as the outcome of the application is not something that I can control. But sometimes that is easier said than done. Especially when I hear of people who applied for Permanent Residence after me are getting their applications approved in record time !

Then there is the xenophobia that has become all the more evident since the referendum. The closet racists have all come out of their closets, thinking they are entitled to air their inflammatory views in public  ,as after all, all the headlines in ‘The Daily Mail’, ‘The Sun’ and ‘ The Express’ has made it perfectly acceptable to do so , in their eyes. It’s not just EU citizens being affected, not at all, but immigrants from every corner of the globe. If you are not born and bred British, then you don’t belong here, is the message that is given out. I am well aware that only a small minority share those hateful views, but that minority is loud. A Danish man had the rear windscreen of his car smashed in, he had his garden wall smashed in, litter and dog poo thrown into his garden and rotten cheese on his door handle by a xenophobic neighbour. A Spanish woman suffered a barrage of racial abuse from another customer when popping into the chemist to collect her prescription, being told that she is a burden on the NHS and should go home to her own country. EU workers are being told by their colleagues to ‘ Go home !’.

Then we have  certain employers, landlords, letting agents etc asking for proof of Permanent Residence.  Britain are still in the E.U ,and for the next 2 years at least, everything remains unchanged ! But people act as if though that fact is irrelevant.

This is the life in the UK for EU citizens today. We contribute 2.7 billion annually to the British economy. We are just like you, but we are not treated like you.

 

 

 

 

Please note , the following words are taken from a post by this constituent. I have not included their name in order to protect their anonymity.

 

Right …. Quick summary of my 15 minutes with the PM last Friday. (though long post warning)

First impressions – she’s very cold and for someone who relies on votes to keep her job – could do with going to charm school.

I opened with my concerns of racism at the top of Government – she refuted this robustly – however I made reference to her own “British jobs for British workers” and “British Doctors would be better for the NHS” and of course the Home Secretary’s “foreigner list”. She went on about wanting to make sure UK companies were investing in UK workers etc etc. I did say if I advertised for a “British employee”, I would be very rightly on the sharp end of the Equality Act – she had to agree with that.

I presented her with a copy of the ballot paper and asked where on there did it say that we were voting to reduce the number of EU citizens in the UK? She said “well it doesn’t but the Government has reports that the level of immigration is a concern – I asked for reference which she couldn’t provide.

I then produced an infograph illustrating that EU workers add more to the economy than they cost – she didn’t appear impressed. She then started getting very emphatic that “the British people had voted for Brexit and the Government was committed to making it happen”. At this point she got a bit cross and started pointing in my face – I asked her to please not point in my face as I considered it rude! She replied that “People point at me all the time – “indeed” I said “it’s rude so please refrain!”.

I then presented the “pie chart” showing voting numbers and pointed out that only 37% of the electorate voted for Brexit which was not the “British people” – she didn’t really answer that one. I also said that the “British people” phrase from herself and her colleagues got me shouting at the tele and I would much prefer to hear 37% of the electorate. She asked me if I accepted the result – certainly not!

We then spoke about my own issue – in addition to my day job as an HR Manager with a large social care organisation, my husband and I own a small bistro – with an EU citizen chef. She would not guarantee EU citizens’ right to remain post Brexit. I outlined my wine supplier had increased prices (few British options for wine) food supplies have increased – I buy local where we can but we are always shopping to a price. Fuel costs have also risen due to the plunging pound. She started on about exports to which I replied I was not in a position to export my steak & frites that my diners order! I asked what assurances she could give me – “we will ensure a strong economy” was all she could do.

There was more “we’re going to get the best deal”. I told her that was a “hope not an action”. I gave the analogy that the Brexit “best deal” rhetoric would be like me saying I want the “best holiday” without knowing where I was going, how much it would cost, how I would get there, where I’d stay, what currency do I need, what shots I might need etc etc. All very meaningless without substance. She said the Government would not give details of their negotiation. I said that Donald Tusk had said on Thursday that there is either “Hard Brexit or no Brexit” and I was inclined to agree – she said “I am sure I have more experience in negotiating in Europe than you do!”. I said arrogance was not helpful.

I then showed her a screen shot of Boris Johnson’s speech the day after the 23rd (the part where he says we can still live, work, study etc in the EU) and asked could she clarify her Foreign Secretary’s comments as clearly this was not going to be true. She blustered and said “he wasn’t the Foreign Secretary then” (not sure what difference that makes…..)

By this point I knew we probably would never be friends so I asked her that given Maidenhead had voted overwhelmingly Remain would she vote against Brexit should she lose the Supreme Court case? She then said she was a representative not a “delegate” and was not obliged to be the voice of her constituents…………….. I said I thought the people of Maidenhead may find this interesting in the next election. She said anyone who didn’t understand this, doesn’t understand the role of an MP. I said I thought there would many who didn’t understand this.

Time was up – I finished by telling there was a huge groundswell of opposition to Brexit planning tactical voting and protest.

I don’t think she’s listening – she’s arrogant and extremely defensive. She also looked very very tired. In my years of people watching as an HR Manager – I would say she is very much out of her depth.

I will certainly post the “representative” not a “delegate” comments onto a Maidenhead Facebook page of over 8000 people – they should know their local member feels no obligation to take their views to Parliament. Maidenhead is overwhelmingly Tory but she also stood on an anti Heathrow platform and with Brexit added in – she may be challenged for her seat. (The LibDems do reasonably well on the local Council).

I don’t think I’m on her Christmas card list!

I would recommend that as many of us as possible request an appointment at Constituent Surgeries. The “representative not delegate” could be a good argument to Remain MPs in Leave areas. (obligation to put country first)