Isabelle Colas, a barley research scientist at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, explains why she is feeling angry and depressed
The latest Brexit moves from the prime minister and his home secretary, Priti Patel, are quite worrying and, I believe, discriminatory.
On 18 August, we learnt that freedom of movement is to end from 31 October. Is this realistic? Can the government actually do this?
Are they going to chase us down at home and send us back to where we came from? How are they going to bring their own citizens ‘home’ by 1 November?
If this is true, I will have to cancel my trip to France for which I had been invited to be an external examiner of a PhD viva to make sure that I don’t put myself at risk of being locked out. (A PhD viva is basically an interview or discussion with two examiners – an internal examiner from your university and an external examiner from a different university who is an expert in that field.)
I have no home in France because I left more than 14 years ago. As I do not have an address in France, I cannot have a bank account. I do not have a life in France – my life is here.
Salary thresholds and science funding
Just one week ago, a right wing think tank urged the home secretary to make the minimum wage for visa applicants at least £36,700.
The majority of scientists do not earn this, most of them are postdocs. At the James Hutton Institute, our postdoc salaries start at about £30,000. What about technical staff, visiting students and other workers?
And anyway, who wants to come to a place that does not welcome EU citizens (or any immigrant) and where funding is decreasing?
Our science budget is decreasing and will go down more.
We won’t be eligible for EU funding (certainly not with a no deal and until we have a new agreement in place with the EU) and research council funding is expected to decline too.
Why does the prime minister think that top scientists will want to come to the UK if funding opportunities are limited and employers have a load of hassle every time they need employ someone? If you want to see how the world currently sees the UK, take some time to read this article from the Guardian.
My next question is: What will the government announce next week?
Reports from the Mail Online claim EU citizens will have to show a proof of residency or a utility bill in order to get free treatment from the NHS.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that EU citizens currently living in the UK before or on October 31 will still be able to access free healthcare on the NHS after 31 October. But I am not reassured.
Will EU citizens have to pay more tax? Or pay more for childcare or their pensions?
Maybe we will have to get a specific driving licence that will have to be renewed at an excruciating price every year.
Perhaps they will decide that we cannot access British citizenship – or strip it from people who already have it.
In a world where xenophobia is the new normal, I fear they will come up with more ideas to make our lives difficult.
The government doesn’t seem to have a plan for anything such as keeping our industries safe (see the job cuts in the car industry); protecting our supplies of medicines; importing goods or making new deals with other countries.
But for the past three years, they have come up with a lot of detail when it comes to EU citizen immigration.
What is happening is just wrong and this is not the UK that I know. This is something else and is dangerous for everyone.