Written evidence submitted by Marian Bore (FRE0061)
Introduction of myself and why I am submitting evidence:
I am Marian Bore, a female white British Citizen living in a remain-voting part of England, in a Conservative-voting constituency. I am community-minded and have developed mediation services for the community over the past 20+ years, as well as running my own business. I recently decided to take a break from paid work (aged 56) as I have found the situation with Brexit is so stressful and needs so much energy spent on it, that to have any sort of life enjoyment I need the time. At the moment I can live on my own means.
I know I am not alone in this exhaustion and anxiety, and that is why I am taking the time to submit this very personal evidence, in the hopes that it will help the committee understand the very real distress myself and many others are faced with.
I add here that I believe many more are unaware and blissfully (almost wilfully) ignorant of what Brexit takes from them and the problems they will be faced with. Especially with the Covid 19 virus and all the issues we have with this, many seem to be unable to cope with even acknowledging there may be more and longer lasting problems awaiting them due to leaving the EU. This I find most upsetting and dangerous, and reflects the insidious nature of UK governmental and media lack of clarity, truth, respect and valuing each other and our neighbours and partners in all senses.
- Priorities for me are peace, freedom, truth, respect and safety of and valuing our communities and resources. Balancing the sectors and parts of the UK must involve acknowledging and engaging with the remain-voting parts of the UK to understand and attempt to satisfy our needs as well as the hopes of leave-voting parts and communities. None of these priorities or balances are being met or perhaps even attempted by government in the UK right now from what I can see, and that is distressing and dangerous. It feels that divides are being stoked and that fears, disrespect, lack of accountability or responsibility and negative positions are being modelled in government.
- With willing parties, anything can be negotiated at any point, even in this case after the transition period ends, or a request to extend the transition period after the deadline of end June 2020. However, the UK seem to be on the one hand saying that all is already agreed with the withdrawal agreement and on another hand not sticking to things agreed in it. It is all very unclear, appears disrespectful and even incompetent or aggressive. Going back on agreements and blaming others is not the best way to negotiate and build good honest relationships.
- To have things negotiated after the end of transition period must, surely, necessitate that there is prior agreement to continuance as now, so there needs to be some form of agreement on what happens between now and when negotiations start and conclude. To me, helpful to that would be extending the transition period for a suitable length of time, such as 2 years. Then if agreements are in place before that, they could be phased in in manageable ways, so that people and businesses could adjust and make their own changes accordingly, without rush or shock upsets.
- I have a small property in both UK and Belgium. They are both my homes and both fully owned. I have spent the last 13 years between both, about half of every month in each. I have 2 homes. I have worked over the internet and phone from Belgium and in person in UK. I am involved in community projects and communities in both. Retirement plans, which were a short way off, included more time in Belgium and travelling more around the rest of Europe from there. I have already learnt a lot of excellent initiatives in Belgium, including shared streets for bikes, pedestrians, children and vehicles, green building methods and requirements, waste disposal and biochar, and measured collection methods. During the Covid 19 pandemic, the initiatives for testing, supporting business, keeping safe and controlling access within communities, bars, restaurants, hairdressers, public services and beaches are things that the UK could learn from and utilise. I had planned to bring these ideas together and hoped to create a conduit for mutually beneficial sharing of initiatives and ideas across both the UK and the EU. Family members and friends had expressed thoughts about spending more time with us and travelling around together or thinking of studying in Belgium or Holland as they knew they had someone close to hand. This is all up in the air and uncertain if it can happen due to leaving the EU. I want to be able to continue with my plans without being hindered by leaving the EU.
- I totally rely on being able to be in either home flexibly, for shorter or for longer periods, depending on many factors, which include personal reasons, property maintenance, social activities, family and friend’s diaries and holidays and up until recently work commitments, although I am not seeking work currently, I hadn’t ruled it out for the future in either country. So the 90 day or even the 180 day Schengen visa is not going to give us what we need, as we can’t necessarily be out of one place for such a length of time. You could think of us as cross-border live-ers who may want to work in either place in the future, and whose qualifications should stand us in the same stead as now. We currently don’t have to have a visa to work in either place and I wish to retain this right. It is already showing up that UK qualifications are being not recognised in the EU and that the ability to travel and live in the EU is a requirement for EU jobs.
- My husband has now taken his private pension early in order that we could obtain Belgian residency on the basis of being self-sufficient, in an effort to retain our freedom to come to our Belgian home when we want and need to. So this has already meant a significant change to our lives and was not something we had necessarily planned to do at this stage. We are still uncertain if this is enough or if we have unwittingly brought about other problems by this. Each day there seems to be new problems come up and new issues to face and work through.
- We are negotiating our way through many changes and the confusion and anxiety of it is often overwhelming, exacerbated by the fact that nobody knows the all rules and requirements and effects, as they have not been agreed yet. And they change, even when a new rule is made. It changed that Belgium was going to be a declaratory country for residence and now it appears we will need to re-apply next year. So this may all come to nothing in the end for us. That would be heart-breaking and mean another rethink about our futures, even if we have a choice,
- We rely on being able to drive around Europe and the UK, with our car, and our EU international licences. We rely on mobile phone coverage across Europe and UK being agreed by the phone companies to keep charges the same wherever you are. We rely on sending payments from UK to Belgium via Transferwise and wish to remain part of SEPA.
- We rely on not being taxed twice on our income from pension and lodgers and tenants in UK.
- We rely on same standards of food and plants so we can bring our flowers and fridge food and sandwiches etc on our journeys and take personal larder produce and gifts like cheeses and biscuits both ways for ourselves or friends. We also take plants across both ways as we love our gardens in both homes.
- We have to come to rely even more on unrestricted allowance of wines and other duty paid and duty free goods between UK and France.
- We have been reliant on our healthcare and EHIC although we have now joined a service for extra health insurance in Belgium.
- I find it so, so unbelievable that my rights to these and freedom to move around Europe as an EU citizen are being taken from me. I can’t see why this is not an infringement of my human rights. I am made to feel less and less welcome in UK and many previous friends seem happy to call me a Traitor and other new terms of abuse if I say how I feel and that I am worried for my, and even their, futures. I don’t understand why there can’t be an agreement to I can retain protected freedom to move through the EU or Schengen areas as an EU Citizen (quite happy for it to be something I apply for or pay for and have to sign up to terms of citizenship and have to prove I am self-reliant in terms of healthcare insurance and income). I can’t see this would be a problem for those leave voters that I am able to continue with my freedom in this way.
- We have already paid out more money for extra bits of paperwork and green cards and have got bits of green paper from our car insurance for each trip (now this has paused for a while as they tell us we don’t need to do this for the moment – but again nobody really knows) and extra health insurance and finance services and other things, but the main pay-out is in terms of stress and anxiety.
I ask the committee to consider my submission as an example of one of many in such circumstances that have not had their voices heard sufficiently. There are many more who don’t even know at the moment that they need worry. Please don’t be tempted to make a mistake and consider that their lack of contact is a lack of caring. For when the time comes, then the shocks will come if the committee does not engage fully with the groups out there who talk for the many more who have their heads elsewhere at the moment.