Today I have reached another milestone of dealing with Brexit: I have completed the naturalisation process and become a British citizen. For me, the process was as straight forward as it gets: pass the Life in the UK test, fill in some forms, hand over some money, show some documents and wait. It was probably also about time I did it given that I have now lived more than half my life in Scotland. I also lost the ability to vote in general elections in Germany due to my long absence. The thing that rankles me is that I feel I had no choice in this matter: having British citizenship is the only way I can make sure I will not loose any more rights in future. It allows us some flexibility should we choose to leave the country for some time in future and to come back without losing my status. This process reminded me that I have very little agency and that I need to arrange myself with whatever situation I am confronted by.
It saddens me that I had to do this because of a policy by a government that could not be further away from my ideals. I think Brexit is a complete waste of time that needlessly smashes up a whole lot of things without a plan to rebuild something new in its place that I can agree with. I am well aware of how privileged I am: I have a straight forward employment history, I have lived here long enough, I could afford to spend the money on the naturalisation process and I get to keep my German citizenship. I feel for all those whose life is being cast into turmoil and who face hard decisions. Most of all I feel for all the lost opportunities of young people either going abroad or coming here like I did a few decades ago.
After all this I must also admit that the final stage of taking the Pledge of Loyalty was a bit of a letdown due to the Covid 19 restrictions. I very much missed the formality and celebration that would have normally been part of the occasion. An online video call just does not do it. Having said that I do think Edinburgh Council have been super helpful and welcoming. I just would have liked to share this moment with others.
So tonight we will celebrate with a curry from our most favourite curry place and some excellent local beer.