Speaking for Ourselves

EU nationals can make a difference in the general election

EU nationals can make a difference in the general election

Sabrina Huck

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - EU nationals can make a difference in the general election

Since Britain narrowly voted to leave the EU, European citizens in the UK have been in constant limbo. There has been very little clarification on whether they will be able to continue their lives uninterruptedly. 

Throughout the referendum campaign, the national dialogue on immigration has deteriorated. Any sensible discussion has been replaced with xenophobia and hostility. Mainstream politician’s rhetoric has left Europeans politically unrepresented. Although European citizens can vote in the local elections, they are unable to cast a ballot in the upcoming General Election. With little to no influence over what will happen to them after Brexit, this situation intensifies feelings of anxiety and powerlessness.

But do not fret: There are other ways to influence the political debate. We might not be able to vote, but we can knock on doors. 

The only way to prevent a hard Brexit is to use your voice or vote in June. By volunteering to campaign for a political party, European citizens can make a big difference.

When I first moved to the UK, I found myself in a small town in Essex in the middle of the European Parliament election campaign. UKIP were out in full force, set to take many seats on the local council - a distressing thought. I was able to vote in this election but nevertheless I started to feverishly campaign for candidates who I felt would represent my values. 

Just a year later, Britain went to the polls again for the General Election. This time, I was not able to vote. Again, I returned to the campaign trail. Campaigning has ever since functioned as an outlet when politics left me feeling powerless. 

EU citizens currently face an uncertain future.  Under plans of the current government, a post Brexit immigration policy risks becoming a race to the bottom instead of a chance to level the playing field and elevate other groups to the same level of rights Europeans currently enjoy under the Freedom of Movement.

Influencing politics starts at the grassroots level. Going out on the doorstep for your local party will put you in front of the public. You will be able to argue your case to the people who matter – the voters. Some might have had very little personal contact with European migrants. The more we put ourselves out there, the more we become human again, not just an abstract term in newspaper headlines.

Mixing with political organisers, MPs and campaign volunteers can help to influence those who craft the messages the parties will take to the country in June. Even progressive and left wing parties often have an active core of people who are from very similar backgrounds. The more migrants get involved, the higher the chances to educate these decision-makers about our issues. We become their colleagues, friends and partners.  They will understand our situation better and might consider these lived realities when making policy.

There are nearly three million of us in the UK. If we all raise our voices, we will be heard. 

Sabrina Huck is London Representative on the Young Labour National Committee and a EU citizen