Greetings from Lithuania, a proud member of the EU and NATO since 2004. The day before Lithuania joined, I arrived on a British Airways flight from London.
I’m a British citizen, I work in the music industry, I thought the whole idea of accepting Eastern Europe into the EU was so that I can live there, make cool stuff happen with the locals, spread European values, organise some raves with British music, improve the economy of both countries and generally embrace the awesome benefits of freedom.
I got a bit carried away. I ended up getting elected to the City Council.
Hundreds of ravers were supporting my campaigns for more nightlife, LGBT equality and drug legalisation, so they voted for me.
I was the first foreigner in the country to win a seat. I had to swear on the Constitution and everything, it was beautiful.
I’m probably the only non-citizen ever sworn to defend the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania. I don’t know if this is technically legal, or perhaps treason, but it happened.
How do you like that, imperialist baby-boomers of the British Isles? A British citizen won control of 2% of the Council of the capital city of a foreign country. Hurrah and huzzah! We showed those natives who’s boss! We have controoool!
After a couple of years figuring out the beautiful and intricate subtleties of East European local government, I made it onto the Economics and Finance Committee, the most influential committee. Responsible for all the money stuff.
Imagine that! A British citizen controlling what happens with Johnny Foreigner’s entire city budget.
A plucky young lad from Somerset voting on the daily lives of uncivilised members of a distant and primitive nation. Sometimes I even get the casting vote, because I’m an independent with no whip. Rock n’ roll!
We made it, fellow subjects of Elizabeth II. We control a foreign capital city far beyond Berlin. Roll out the barrel, unfurl the Union Flags, string up the bunting and cut the sausage rolls into bite-sized pieces. I’ve got a security pass to the twentieth floor of the municipality building of a city near Minsk, I am basically a cross between James Bond and Margaret Thatcher and this is awesome.
However, as you can imagine, the local nationalists do not like my staggering rise to positions of influence over their refuse collection and kindergartens. I have met with resistance, Humphrey. Strong views have been exchanged. But when is all said and done, I have gained control over the affairs of the people of continental Europe and they fear me in the corridors of power.
Brexit throws all that in the bin.
I have already lost influence because of the massive loss of prestige that this embarassing process has caused. That mojo is going to be hard to get back, whatever happens with Brexit.
Since Tony Blair drank champagne with Noel Gallagher we’ve been on a downward spiral of uncoolness, at least as viewed from the other side of the English Channel. When I first immigrated to Vilnius, their capital city, I would be introduced with pride and excitement as “the British guy”. People don’t say that any more. Maybe they are worried they might offend me by associating me with Britain.
I didn’t get a Duke of Edinburgh Award in school, but in Lithuania during a Royal Visit Prince Philip personally handed me an award for entrepreneurship. I mean, I was encouraged by the actual monarchy to immigrate here, and now apparently the official position of both party leaders is to listen to those who say immigrants are scum.
The hate that has been stirred up works both ways. Brexit means a rise in xenophobia and jingoism in both Britain and Lithuania. I have long been attacked on the internet for my work as a gay-friendly nazi-hating politician, but recently most of the hatespeech mentions Brexit. They taunt me and laugh at me for having to “go home on March 29th”.
I have received death threats for voting for an amendment to limit the basketball team’s funding. Seriously. The police refused to investigate because they didn’t think I was sufficiently scared, but I dunno, Lithuanians are pretty serious about basketball and the guy said he’s going to “hire a rifleman”. I’m not even joking now.
This is the result of the decisions made by my own government back in the UK, voted for by my own fellow citizens after Putin and a bunch of other rich criminals hijacked social media. Cheers.
There’s a simple way to fix this, of course.
When Article 50 is revoked I’ll be down the pub buying everybody shots and screaming YOU’RE MY WONDERWAAAAAAALLLL with a hundred Lithuanian friends. It’s going to be the party of the century and we will all be ecstatic.
I know people say revoking Article 50 would cause riots, but I think there won’t be any room for the riots because of all the spontaneous outdoor raves and teaparties.
I’ve got a Plan B, in case the suicidal and frankly Hitleresque Prime Minister decides to kamikaze the country into oblivion for a slice of imaginary glory without any democratic mandate to do so. I have lived here in Lithuania for more than ten years, I speak Lithuanian fluently (and I write their bylaws, remember?). I’m pretty confident about the constitutional law test because I have actually read the thing I swore on. So I qualify for citizenship.
No wait… Lithuania does not allow dual citizenship so I would have to write to the Queen and lose my once-glamourous British passport.
Before Brexit, it seemed a bit risky to bet the rest of my life on Lithuania, but Brexit has really helped me to make the decision. In Lithuania we have a functioning parliament, a useful currency, low knife crime, Putin hasn’t occupied us and the nasty nationalists only get 1% of the vote. That’s some pretty interesting statistics for an ex-Londoner.
I like Vilnius. For me, Brexit might mean Lithentry.
That would be a sign that you really are losing control. Not only losing control of me, but also folding up the flags in the city of Vilnius, the fairest outpost in the vast and wealthy European Union you are so desperate not to be a part of.
Whatever you guys do, I’m remaining.
Mark Adam Harold is an elected City Councillor and the Night Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania. He also runs Music Export Fund, an NGO helping young musicians to go professional. He is 40 years old and engaged to be married if the paperwork is still valid after March 29th.
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