Melissa Kite Melissa Kite

Real life | 13 October 2016

No. Of course not

Against all odds, I almost got through an entire Brexit dinner with dignity, and without opening the valve in my head which allows hot steam to escape. Almost.

Our little Leave Means Leave campaign soiree at a restaurant in Birmingham was going swimmingly until a TV journalist drew up a chair and within seconds started berating one of the guests, a government minister, for not giving a cast iron assurance now that every foreigner living in Britain can stay once we leave the EU.

‘Oh go on! Can’t you just let everyone stay?’ he pleaded with the minister, who was trying to eat his sea bass. ‘I mean, these are real people, you know, real families.’ Naturally, as stupid Leave campaigners, we had all thought they were pretend families.

‘I’m afraid we really couldn’t just say that,’ said the minister, poking his seas bass with his fork.

‘Aw, go on!’ said the TV hack. ‘It would be such a nice gesture. Go on! Go on! Go on? Go on! Go on!’ And on it went, until I thought the minister would shake his head like Father Ted and say: ‘Really Mrs Doyle, I must insist. I don’t want a cup of tea.’

But he said: ‘The problem is, if we say all foreigners can stay, what happens if France says it’s sending back Joe Bloggs and his family from Provence, or Spain chucks out all the pensioners in the Costa Del Sol?’

‘But it’s just so unfair! A lot of them are professionals. They’ve made their life here!’ said the TV chap, looking as though he might burst into tears on behalf of French bankers with children at the Kensington Lycee.

I felt a deep sense of shame as I listened to him. I realised that I was not a nice, open minded, generous person but an embittered old cynic who wants to shut all the doors and batter large pieces of crooked wood over the windows, even if that keeps out tens of thousands of perfectly delightful people with children called Amelie and Laurent.

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