On Turning German

Technically, I didn’t “just turn” German. Theoretically, under German law, I was German from the time I was born, by virtue of being born to a parent who was German. When I picked up the certificate earlier this week, I was simply obtaining the paperwork which is somewhat analogous to getting a birth certificate. The citizenship certificate, like a birth certificate, merely documents what already happened.

That said, there is a wonderful irony that someone who supports the UK leaving the EU is only allowed to live in this country because of my EU citizenship.  I do appreciate and recognise that irony – but there’s no contradiction between loving Europe or being European, and supporting the idea of the UK leaving the European Union. In that respect, I feel like the EU is like a jealous lover that reduces its power and influence in the world.  I think the UK can and should have a romance with Europe, but it should also have good relations with the rest of the world as well.  Outside the EU, the UK will be able to do just that: I think the UK should continue loving and being intimately connected with Europe, but it should also be able to go to the pub with mates from across the world without needing the permission of a jealous EU partner.

More personally, as a migrant myself, I think it’s really important for me to recognise that I’m metaphorically a guest in someone else’s house. So, when I moved to the Isle of Man, I migrated under the rules and laws that applied.

I happen to think that those rules are silly: I think that the Isle of Man (and the UK) should allow me to continue living in the country because I’ve built a life there, because I’ve lived for six years there, because I’ve participated in Manx economic life there through work and spending and investment, because I’ve participated in Manx social life, because I’ve participated in Manx sporting life, because I’ve participated in Manx community life, and even been a participant in Manx political life. 

I happen to think that a country should judge migrants on two grounds: that they have good content of character (ie, no criminals) and that they have a capability to contribute to the country.  Unfortunately, that’s not the prime driver of the current British (or Manx) migration policy.

The current, EU-forced, migration policy is to allow people to move and live in the UK not based on the content of their character, or their capability to contribute, but rather, primarily on their nationality. Of course, there is some allowance of migration from outside the EU through a skilled and humanitarian component, but that’s only a small minority of a British migration program dominated by EU migration.  After leaving the EU, the UK will be able to take control of its migration policy, and make laws that make more sense than the current mess that it suffers – while using a process that it accountable to a democratic system.

So, because I love living in the Isle of Man, and because I enjoy being a part of this broader British community, I jumped through the hoops of obtaining documentation to prove that I’m German.  I think it’s silly, absurd, and yes, ironic – but that’s what you do when you’re a guest in someone else’s house. You play by the rules, even if you don’t like them.

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