Freedom of Movement 20 - Stockholm
Mona Slottensjo and Paul Vogt.
Mona was born and raised in Sweden, where they now live. Paul was born in Hamburg, Germany, to a German father and English mother.
Paul Says “My mother being from England, migrated to Germany with my German father. We all grew up in Germany but frequently travelled back to the UK. My sister then later moved to England with her German husband. They both work and live there now with their two children, although they are both also German. I moved myself to the UK, for work and had no issues finding a job. Later in life I moved to the UK with Mona who did not have an English passport but still had no issues finding work etc. So I’d say is been a very positive experience.”
Paul also has family in Italy - his British aunt married an Italian and lives there now, with his uncle and cousins.
Mona is a quarter Danish, her Danish grandfather having emigrated to Sweden where he married her grandmother. “It was a positive experience for him, and for us growing up as we frequently travelled down to Denmark. No-one else in my family has ever lived abroad so when I moved to the UK, the first time, my family had a lot of questions about visas etc. I needed none.”
“Since then we lived in 6 different countries (not all in Europe) but never had an issue finding work or friends. Our travels have been a tremendous positive factor in our life and travelling without needing a visa made everything so much easier. We’ve always felt welcomed and involved in local life.”
Mona and Paul travel frequently. They have both worked in hospitality (Paul still does) and studied in both Switzerland and the UK, where they also lived and worked for five years, before returning to SE. They also travel to see family and friends around Europe.
For Paul, whose work depends to a large extent on the free movement of people, the right to free movement is fundamental; tourism relies as much on an international work force as it does on international clients. For them both, having worked and gained experience in the industry, they would have much less to offer if they had travelled less. Working abroad is fundamental.
Thinking about the referendum decision specifically (we agreed that this wasn’t about Brexit, but it’s hard to ignore the lived experience of non-british people following the referendum decision) the pair decided to return to Sweden after the referendum as they very much felt that they were beginning to feel excluded, to be outsiders, which they had never felt before.
Mona says: “The general non-welcomed feeling we experienced amongst the “leavers”, although we studied and worked within the country, despite giving back of our invested academic time, and helping to support British businesses.”
“Also the “Oh, but not you, of course YOU are welcome to stay” comments from the many leavers we spoke to. We both stand united with all immigrants, regardless of race, colour or educational background. You can’t pick and choose which ones you want.”