Brexit: Meet the Yorkshire couples living in limbo land

For his latest project, Jeremy Abrahams photographed and interviewed couples wondering whether to leave or remain as the real impact of the Brexit vote becomes clear.

Max Fajman and Irenie Zelickman.

Emilio Bayarri-Torres (Spanish citizen) and Natalie Bayarri (UK citizen)

Natalie: I assumed that nothing was going to change. I didn’t even check the result straight away. I was downstairs making breakfast for the boys and I didn’t feel a sense of urgency. I think that I was a bit naive.

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Emilio: I got that interview feeling where your stomach feels sick. I’ve got a very clear memory of that morning and then having to get ready to go to work. Maybe I didn’t want to think about it too much. It’s not affecting our day-to-day lives as such but then you hear on the radio or you read it in the paper and you think, “actually, it is going to change our lives”.

Natalie: We want to get our sons’ Spanish passports sooner than we would have done. If I can’t be European they still can.

Emilio: It’s the same with my British citizenship. Because I’ve been here for so long, in the past I’ve thought, I will do it, I want to vote, I want to have a say about what matters to me. But I don’t really want to do it now that I feel obliged to.

Natalie: What’s wrong with you being proud to be Spanish and living here? We’ve never really thought about what we would do if permanent residence wasn’t granted. I do not know, I really don’t know.

Max Fajman (Swedish citizen) and Irenie Zelickman (UK citizen)

Irenie: Max is still working in Sweden but once he retires we’d thought he would come here. But now there is so much unknown we’re not sure how it will work. On the day of the result I woke early and put the radio on. I wasn’t only devastated because of our relationship, I genuinely thought it was the wrong thing to do.

Max: There are 100,000 Swedes living in the UK at the moment. Swedish multinationals employ 70,000 people – Brexit will have a very great impact. May wants a divorce and then she wants to have new relations between the UK and the remaining 27 countries. It’s a bit like taking the raisins out of the cake, I don’t like you, but you have to like me.

Irenie: I don’t think it has been made clear what is entailed. Is the single market different to the EU? The EU is saying no, it’s not, the British are saying yes, it is. The more I read, the more confused I get.

Max: My parents were six years in different concentration camps. They were brought to Sweden as immigrants by the Swedish Red Cross in May 1945 and I was born 
in 1948. I feel secure in Sweden, as Sweden is in the EU, but if I live in the UK as a resident and not a citizen I will feel less secure.

Tamara Francis (German citizen) and Errol Francis (UK citizen)

Tamara: Living here for 17 years with our daughter, we’ve always had the hope that maybe we would have the flexibility of living in another country. I was hoping that our daughter might go to university in Germany, although for her it’s the least issue because she has dual nationality.

Errol: On the morning of the result it was shock, horror, surprise.

Tamara: I was in Germany at the time, I had taken a group of British people from church for a holiday. I had never met a single pro-Brexit person before and I realised what kind of a bubble we lived in. I got a little fed up of the reactions of people, I thought they were really over the top. It’s only now after thinking about it more and more that I realise that whilst I’m not worried that I might have to leave the UK I am worried that we as a family might have to make a decision.

Errol: It’s the uncertainty of everything, they’ve not fleshed out any details. I can’t imagine them throwing out hundreds of thousands of people, it’s not practical, it doesn’t make sense.

Tamara: If the only option was to obtain British citizenship that would also annoy me. I wouldn’t mind if I had dual nationality but I would not be willing to give up my German nationality. It would put me in an impossible situation, I’d have to choose between my husband and my parents and sister. I’ve got two lives and I’ve got two identities. I don’t want to have a closed door on either.