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How break-ups and lost friendships have been Brexit's hidden casualty

How break-ups and lost friendships have been Brexit's hidden casualty
By Chris Harris
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Fresh pressure could be put on relationships and friendships in the coming months as Brexit uncertainty rumbles on, it’s been claimed.

Counselling experts Relate say more people could fall out in Britain with the future of the 3.2 million EU citizens living in the country still up in the air.

Theresa May announced plans to let EU citizens stay after Britain leaves the EU in 2019, but they have been criticised for lacking detail.

Brexit ‘the final straw’

Relate said one-in-five of its counsellors surveyed had seen Brexit brought up as a reason for issues in people’s relationships.

Nigel Shepherd, head of family law organisation Resolution, says the UK’s EU exit is pushing couples over the edge and fuelling marital breakdown.

Gurpreet Singh, spokesman for the relationship experts, said they were seeing Brexit expose ‘different value systems’ in couples where one voted leave and the other remain.

It’s also causing problems in British-European relationships.

There are also issues within families especially between the younger and older generation, exposing one of the biggest Brexit divides.

“Couples don’t come in and say this person voted remain and we’re in counselling because of this, you don’t get that” Singh told Euronews. “But it does come up as a part of bigger issues around relationships.

“It’s a final straw in a lot of cases. It’s a value system thing. It’s also the trigger point – you’ve always known about the differences but you’ve never actually addressed them until there was something to address.

“You also have the anxiety of people who are from European countries not thinking that partners understand them fully. Some of them may not feel welcome to stay.

“I think it’s going to come back. We’re nowhere near feeling the impact of what is about to happen. We may then see people falling out with people even further.”

Testimony: three cases of Brexit break-up

Eva Oller, 52, originally from Finland, said Brexit caused her four-and-a-half-year relationship to come to an end.

“We had similar views on most things, we went travelling, enjoyed skiing, sailing, diving and hiking together.

“Then, one year ago, Brexit happened. I woke up in the morning and made some comments on Facebook about how devastated I felt and how I felt homeless. He got angry and told me to stop posting this stuff as his children and ex-wife voted for Brexit.

“I wasn’t allowed to mention it. So we carried on pretending it hadn’t happened. But I had to speak up and my boyfriend hated it.”

Oller said going on a pro-EU march was the final straw for the Englishman.

“It was too much for him,” she told Euronews. “He stopped contacting me after four and a half years of being together night and day and planning our future.


“I loved him with all my heart and Brexit broke it. He broke it, I guess.”

London-based Laurence Borel, originally from Lyon, said Brexit had seen her fall out with an ex-boyfriend, who she had stayed on good terms with.

The 37-year-old said the referendum had exposed his ‘alt-right political views’, unknown to her previously, and sparked rows between the pair.

“It’s all been a shame and a bit of a shock too because. I knew he was into alternative facts around the US but when the whole Brexit referendum came about I didn’t think he would be so against the EU.

“I was absolutely devastated and shocked after Brexit that I could fall out with someone I’ve known for 16 years and that I considered to be a good friend.


“I have another friend who voted in Brexit but we didn’t fall out. We managed to have an educated debate around the issue and he said the country could have better trading relationships. And I said ‘fair enough’.

Edinburgh-based Uta Rosenbrock, 47, originally from Germany, has also lost three long-term friends as a result of Brexit.

She said it was nothing to do with how they voted, more about how they reacted to her predicament after the referendum.

“The friendships have been shown up to be quite superficial.

“If I am really emotionally upset by Brexit and people tell me to shut up about it, I can’t really see that as friendship.”

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