We miss you EU nationals admit leaving UK right after Brexit was saddest day of life

Nigel Farage lauds 'global vote of confidence' for Brexit Britain

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Maria Candela, who lived in Britain for 23 years, described the day she left, after seeing the result of the Brexit vote, as “the saddest of my life”. She is one among hundreds of thousands who went back to their home countries as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU.

Ms Candela had bought a house in Orpington, south-east London, with her husband.

She said: “It was our home. The day we left, 4 August 2017, I cried so many tears.

“I feel emotional talking about it even now. I have kept a photograph of it, all emptied.”

Moving to Barcelona, she claimed, came with “a reverse culture shock”, adding: “The whole Catalan independence thing kicked off as we arrived – the same issues, a divisive referendum, all over again. It wasn’t easy.”

Speaking to The Guardian, she said she misses “London’s multiculturalism. Proper customer service. Green trees. Not the weather. Not the food. And I wouldn’t go back.”

Laure Ollivier-Minns moved from France to Britain in 1986.

She said: “I honestly thought I would spend the rest of my life there.

“I loved that country. I embraced the culture. It really was home.”

Ms Ollivier-Minns, who blames Brexit for “robbing” her home, said: “I miss English pubs. I miss PG Tips. I miss speaking English.

“I love this language. I was missing it so much I set up an English conversation group here.”

One of the reasons for moving was she didn’t trust the EU settlement scheme.

She said: “I could see the discrimination coming, that dangerous ‘us v them’. I had to get out.”

This French woman isn’t alone in her wariness.

The Independent Monitoring Authority, a watchdog set up under the Brexit deal to protect the rights of EU citizens settled in the UK, last summer. surveyed 3,000 EU nationals in the UK

It found one in three lacked trust in the Government, and one in 10 were planning to leave.

Last month, the body launched legal action against the Home Office, accusing it of putting 2.5 million EU citizens who have been granted pre-settled status at automatic risk of losing rights to live, work or rent in the UK, or of being deported.

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Those who do not apply for settled status before their pre-settled status expires automatically lose their rights and could be liable to removal from the UK.

The IMA, which is particularly concerned about elderly people, children in care and vulnerable people, considers the Home Office’s system unlawful.

Academic Andrea Mammone swapped his job at Royal Holloway, University of London for one at the Sapienza University of Rome.

He said many people like him moved to the UK for its universities – “people who came for this very open British system, this rich exchange of ideas, this great multicultural welcoming of foreign minds”.

Mr Mammone misses the “nostalgic, romantic vision of London” that he carries with him; the city’s “dynamism and greenery”.

According to the ONS, Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic led more than 200,000 EU nationals to go in 2020, leaving a total of 3.5m in the UK.

Meanwhile, the Home Office says it has received 6m applications for settled status.

Jobs data suggests nine percent fewer EU nationals were working in Britain in 2020 than in 2019.

In face of the confusing numbers, immigration experts say the official data is insufficient and believe it most certainly undervalues the true number of departures by an important margin.

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