To flee or not to flee?

I’m seriously thinking of emigrating to an EU country. I might even claim to be a political refugee (from Tory oppression in England). There are plenty of continental countries which will apparently welcome us Remainers in, with guarantees of ‘pubs, marmite and social awkwardness’ to ease the cultural transition: – I find that very touching. We hardly deserve it.

For me, of course, the obvious choice is Sweden, where I already have residency rights. Apparently I’m not alone here. Applications for Swedish citizenship from Brits have gone up 500% since Brexit: I’ve looked up the relevant official page on the internet, and the requirements don’t seem to be all that high:

“To become a Swedish citizen you must:

Well: those don’t seem to be too daunting. I think I’ve conducted myself pretty well in Sweden, haven’t I, Kajsa, apart from that time when I knocked my glass of beer over everyone in a pub near Kulturhuset? They don’t even demand that I learn Swedish. Or shoot an elk, or build a sommarhus with my own bare hands.

Easy-peasy. I think I’ll go for it. (Dual citizenship, of course, in case Sweden is taken over by those awful Sweden Democrats – the equivalent of our UKIP and Britain comes to its senses one day. Two bolt-holes are better than one.)

Of course I haven’t read the small print. There may be other conditions listed there which would make it more difficult for me. I’m over 18, certainly, but quite a bit over, with various infirmities which might make me an increasing burden on the health system there. I can currently support myself from my UK pension, but with the pound plummeting that might not last very long. And they might have noticed a number of articles I’ve written – some on this website – criticizing their legal procedures (vis-a-vis Assange). On the other hand, politically I’m as Swedish as the Swedes, and much more so than most of my compatriots. And also a feminist. I know that’s important.

The only question of principle is whether it is really honourable to take flight. Shostakovitch and Prokofiev were faced with the same dilemma in Soviet Russia, with the latter being widely criticised for choosing to flee to the US. Shouldn’t I stay at home, helping to man the barricades against the insurgent Faragists, instead of enjoying a life of ease scoffing sill and grossly expensive beer in a metre of snow in Stockholm? Where’s my patriotism? Wouldn’t it be more loyal of me to suffer more years of English food and rain in the cause of my country? Rather than turning tail and copping out of my responsibilities, like Boris did yesterday.

But I would miss the steak and kidney puds. And proper fish and chips (battered, not breaded, greasy chips, and mushy peas). And the bread-and-butter puddings. And of course the cricket. And my family and friends – though they can always come over to stay: if Sweden doesn’t ban them in revenge for Brexit. And – yes – the rain.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

About bernardporter2013

Retired academic, author, historian.
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3 Responses to To flee or not to flee?

  1. Anna Sundberg says:


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kajsa Ohrlander says:

    I think your worries over the covardness if taking flight and leaving England in its misery are profoundly important and ethical. Well it not only makes you a better person but highlights the rather uneasy question of what would happen if all antiracists, democrats, feminists, those who welcome refugees, welcome immigrants – that is all those who try to be solidaric and think further than their own noses or self interest can take them – actually now leave England? Would the country then sink further down in conservatism and arrogans or could the opposite happen? That is – it gets so umbearable in England that a revolution will automatically follow? Sounds a bit marxist!! So if that seems likely – do not hesitate – leave, come to Sweden!!! You can safely work for the revolution from here!! And wasn´t that what Marx himself did in a way!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kajsa: the Marx analogy is a comforting one. At least it will give me an excuse for my cowardice. I rather like the idea of working to overthrow the capitalist system in Britain from a chair in Kungligabibliotheket, like Marx did from the British Museum Library. But I can’t promise a Das Kapital. Could you be my Engels, perhaps?


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