Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# Uncertain Future
'Devastation' and worry, as Poles wonder what Brexit will mean for them
“I wasn’t really expecting the result, and I wasn’t happy… It’s not great – especially not for us.”

Daragh Brophy reports from Glasgow:

THERE’S CONFUSION AND worry among Polish communities in the UK, in the wake of yesterday’s shock Brexit result.

What will it mean for Poles, and other migrant workers from the EU, who have lived, raised families and paid taxes here for years?

“I’m devastated and everyone who works for our organisation is,” Alicja Kaczmarek, who runs the Polish Expats Association in Birmingham, told The Guardian today.

“I’ve already said to my partner ‘maybe we should go’,” another Polish migrant, Martin Anderson, told the BBC in the same city.

Tweet by @Daragh Brophy Daragh Brophy / Twitter Daragh Brophy / Twitter / Twitter

In Glasgow, while the response was a little more muted, Polish fans gathering to watch this afternoon’s Euro 2016 match said they were surprised at the Brexit decision, and that it had given rise to a number of concerns.

“I wasn’t really expecting the result, and I wasn’t happy,” said Eva, sitting with family and friends at the Sikorski social club, just ahead of kick-off between Poland and Switzerland.

“It’s not great – especially not for us.

Straight away I was like ‘what’s going to happen now?’. Especially because Scotland voted to Remain as well.

Eva said she was heartened by Nicola Sturgeon’s comments about migrants, in her statement yesterday morning. The first minister addressed migrant communities near the top of her statement, saying “you remain welcome here, Scotland is your home and your contribution is valued”.

“I do feel welcomed here,” said Eva. “I do feel it’s kind of a slightly different attitude maybe than it is in England.”

At the same time… It’s all part of the UK – so I don’t really know what’s going to happen now with me and other EU citizens.

Tweet by @Daragh Brophy Daragh Brophy / Twitter Daragh Brophy / Twitter / Twitter

Patrick, who works at the club, said that due to the amount of time he had spent in Scotland, he wasn’t worried about being “kicked out”. He added:

“I’ve got a cousin that’s been in England for a year – so it might affect her. She’s not been here for so long.”

His family and friends in the Polish community had been talking about the result all day yesterday, he said.

Most of the people are just worried about what’s going to happen. If we all get asked to leave the UK, or if we’ll all get the same rights as before.

While the Leave side, during the campaign, said any new immigration system wouldn’t affect EU citizens who are already in the United Kingdom – in the past, UKIP politicians have suggested migrants only be allowed remain for a transitional period, in the event of the UK parting company with Europe.

Scotland and the EU?

Tomas, watching the match with his young daughter this afternoon, said that while he wasn’t too worried about the impact on the Polish community, he still had concerns about the future of Scotland.

“I don’t feel threatened by the Brexit,” he said.

“I’m more thinking about what will happen with Scotland in general and with the UK in general.

I think we’re at the dawn of the end of the European Union and the end of the UK as well. How all this ends nobody knows.

Tweet by @BBC Andrew Kerr BBC Andrew Kerr / Twitter BBC Andrew Kerr / Twitter / Twitter

As EU citizens resident in Scotland, Poles were allowed vote in the 2014 independence referendum. They weren’t allowed a say in last Thursday’s ballot.

Interestingly, at the social club today, Patrick and Tomas said they’d consider voting to break away from the UK if there was another independence referendum – having both voted to keep the connection with Britain last time (Eva may or may not feel the same way – I forgot to ask her).

Sturgeon, as you may have read elsewhere, has said a new independence referendum is “highly likely” in the wake of this week’s result, which, despite the final overall outcome, saw most Scots choose to remain in Europe.

Earlier, responding to Sturgeon’s reassurances about migrants, Polish centre-right MEP Jacek Saryusz-Wolski tweeted that the country would be very welcome to a place in the union.

Read: Dazed and confused: Many Scots simply don’t know what’s next for their country >

Read: Donald Trump just descended from the heavens into the Brexit fallout >