Brexit was betrayed

Kate Connolly: How Brexit turned her life upside down

Kate Connolly is British. For years she has lived with her husband and two children in Potsdam on the outskirts of the German capital. Then the Brexit decision will turn your world upside down. That was on June 23, 2016. "Even today", she confesses in an interview with rbb24, "it may be that tears come when I think back to that day." But become a German? Coffee instead of tea? Prussian virtues instead of British courtesy? "Unity and justice and freedom" instead of "God save the Queen"? Never!

Then she did it after all, a little out of protest against her parents, who voted for (mother) and against (father) Britain's exit from the EU. But it is the impending Brexit, the uncertainty about the consequences, which plunges the 47-year-old into an "identity crisis". It mixes anger, disappointment - and self-pity.

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Until she grabs the bull by the horns: "My own country seemed to me like a ship heading straight for an unpredictable storm," she notes. "What I was doing here would guarantee me a place in the lifeboat if I had to disembark."

UK EU skepticism summit

For almost 300 pages, Kate Connolly outlines the UK's ambivalent relationship with Europe. She describes it as a love-hate relationship, as a constant back and forth, which - not least since the end of the war and the reign of Winston Churchill - is explained by the geographic location of the country:

"The feeling of being particularly favored by this physical separation from the rest of the world is very strong among many Brits, as is their conviction that Great Britain is different and something special, precisely because it is an island nation." To this day, British skepticism about the EU culminates in the famous handbag appearance by Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher, who shouted to Brussels in 1984: "I want my money back!"

Usually Kate Connolly explains Germany to the British. With her book, it seems, the journalist wants to apologize for her compatriots - to the Germans. In Great Britain the situation was sometimes chaotic, she admits. And yes, she accepted German citizenship because of Brexit.

Kate Connolly (3rd from left) at the "Stammtisch" of Deutsche Welle

Still feeling British at home

What she misses, she revealed this week to the news magazine "Der Spiegel": "A lot. Family and friends, of course, but also the great theater and humor. It's very important in everyday life in Great Britain, it's our outlet." If, for example, the subway wasn't running, the British would react with black humor and laugh. "Even about Brexit, which is just an expression of our identity crisis."

Kate Connolly does not want to give up her Britishness - not even in the face of Brexit. Although she now has a German passport, she writes, she continues to feel the deepest sense of home where she grew up. "There is a sense of home in the strong scent of the sidewalk after a downpour and in the smell of malt vinegar that rises from a steaming helping of fish and chips." Germany is only slowly catching up on this point. "The smell of a sizzling bratwurst seems familiar to me, the pungent smell of melting rubber on the brakes of an S-Bahn or the touch of fat from quark balls at the Christmas market."

Kate Connolly's "Exit Brexit - How I became German" was published by Hanser Verlag in Munich.