London (G.Net)- As the polls for the UK vote on ‘Remaining or Exiting’ the EU came in, many Somalis waiting for their suhuur before observing fast in the morning were gathered in a London café. Most were worried by the early results which showed the Leave Campaign ahead as most felt leaving the EU would be detrimental to the UK and the Somali community living there.
Many Somalis who started life in other EU member states like the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece and France now reside in the UK either as workers or with their family members. They say they came to the UK because it was more tolerant of their Islamic religion and offered more opportunities to work and study. Now, most of this group fear that they would be at risk of returning to the original EU states they came from having already settled in the UK.
“All my family have now moved from Holland and I have no connection to that country any longer,” said Mohamed Hirsi who has lived in the UK for 5 years. “Because of my history of seasonal work and the fact that my brothers are on benefits and disabled, I am not sure what will happen.”
Free Movement of Persons is one of the founding pillars of the EU and it is one that has gained special focus from those campaigning to leave the EU in the UK. Nigel Farage, alongside his attack of EU rules and regulations which he and his Party UKIP deemed silly, focused the brunt of his Leave the EU campaign on immigration and managing Britain’s borders.
“There is no doubt that the Labour Party and the Remain Campaign lost the working class votes over the scaremongering of the Leave Campaign,” said Nur Ahmed, a student in Birmingham, Britain’s second city. “As a Somali Dutch person studying in the UK I am now worried that my student fees may go up. If they do I have to return to Holland.”
Roble Dayib only secured a job as a security guard last week in West London and he was planning to have his family join him from Denmark as early as next week. However, after today’s vote, he has put this on hold.
“This referendum put my life on hold as a Danish Somali and now it threatened my job and the life I could have with my family. I am very sad today,” he said.
Many Somalis awaiting asylum decisions are also very much concerned by the British people’s decision to the leave the EU. Given the tightening of Immigration and asylum rules across the EU, many of their asylum claims depend entirely on Human Rights arguments outside the UK immigration rules provided for by the European Convention on Human Rights which Britain was bound by as an EU member state.
“I am scared today because I think my case will be very weak under UK immigration law. UK immigration law is tough and not very kind but the Human Rights law protected us from UK courts. Now I don’t know if my case will be finished before UK leaves the EU,” said an asylum seeker in Bristol who did not want to be named. “It is not me alone, many people like me are worried now.”
Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council. In his statement today responded by saying that the UK, until it exits the EU, must abide by its rules. He made clear that the UK knew what to do begin the process of exiting the Union.
After the failure of the Remain and Better In campaign led personally by Prime Minister David Cameron, he has also decided to step down by the Conservative Party’s autumn Party conference paving the way for a new leadership contest and possible general elections.
“The PM has done the right thing because he is true to his word but the worry is that his successor will be Boris Johnson or Theresa May who we all know to be anti-immigration, anti-workers and are committed to reducing the support the poor get from the government,” said a Somali mother who did not want to be named. “Luckily for me I work and speak English but many like me will not be so lucky with only a Conservative Government to rely on in the absence of EU law and social protections.”
Despite the concerns of the Somali people living in the UK after the referendum results, most admit there is still some way to go before Britain officially applies to leave the EU and there is no telling now what the UK will negotiate with the EU to sustain relations for the future.