Recently many Europeans living in the United Kingdom have complained about a change in how they are treated and how comfortable they feel living there. Most complaints have been of the abstract sort. There are few, very few, direct instances of hostilities shown – merely a perceived difference. This leads me to believe that it’s a matter of perception, not an actual change and that that perception is rooted not in reality, but in a challenge to supposition pre-disposed.
Most Europeans who moved to Britain did not do so because they cared about Britain or with the desire to become part of British society. They came because Britain was, and remains, easily accessed and because economic conditions are far more favourable than is the case on much of the continent. So long as the United Kingdom was an EU member state and would be for the foreseeable future, the lot hid behind the “logic” of making the most out of their respective countries’ EU membership. They were, after all, citizens of the same union. The British, much to their discredit, took advantage of this as well. Pensioners in Italy, France, Portugal and some ghastly, dodgy country between the latter two, I forget the name, young artists in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam or Stockholm; people of working age facing existential crises and seeking an extended holiday to avoid facing their personal daemons at home. There was little actual desire to try to become part of Swedish society or integrate into Danish society. It was a matter of convenience. There are, of course, exceptions but the point largely holds.
This situation reminds me of the one that faced Britons in Hong Kong starting in the last years of the 1980s through the middle years of the 1990s. In years past, Hong Kong was a choice of convenience. The move was fairly simple and straight-forward. For many, bankers especially, Hong Kong was a place to go in order to escape their short-comings in London. They were FILTH – failed in London, try Hong Kong. As the retrocession approached more and more chose to return to the United Kingdom or to try their luck in new countries. They had the option of remaining in Hong Kong, of course. However, most chose not to take it. The world they belonged to in Hong Kong was coming to an end and they chose to leave with its passing. Those who loved Hong Kong and believed that they were a part of it, that it was their home and their world often remained or at very least kept close contact with it. This was very similar to what happened in India.