Some Canadians living in Britain say they're shocked and unsure about their futures after the country voted to leave the European Union in a historic referendum. But more than 33 million votes were cast, with 51.9 per cent of voters opting to leave the EU. Commonwealth migrants from 53 states, including Canada, could vote in the referendum provided they were residents of Britain. Canadians who hold dual citizenship were also able to vote even if they do not live in Britain, as long as they lived there less than 15 years ago.
Anna Labetski, 25, went to Britain from Toronto on a student exchange two years ago. She now works in the London office of a British grocery retailer.
"No one is working today. I got to work as [Prime Minister] David Cameron was doing his live speech and it was just dead silence. One of my closest co-workers has been on the phone with her dad all day, really upset with him [for voting Leave]. I don't want to be doom and gloom yet, but in the long scheme, it does make me nervous because when you have such strong nationalistic sentiment. It always starts small and then grows. So the question is, can we handle Brexit in a positive way?"
Aya Taha, 31, has lived in Britain for six years and works in the international office at the University of Winchester. Originally from London, Ont., she came overseas on a work visa and now lives in London, England, with her husband, a British citizen.
"[The mood] is very chaotic. There's lots of talk about what it means for our work because we travel a lot. Having cheap flights in Europe might not happen any more. We're in the process of selling our house but our buyer, who is European, has pulled out because house prices are going to drop. We just found out today. All the Canadians I know voted and they all voted to remain. Being part of Europe is one of the reasons why we moved here to begin with."
Graeme Bennett, 38, lives in St. Marys, Ont. He is a dual citizen who was born in Northern Ireland and came to Canada in 2008. He says the union has morphed in recent years into a political body rather than sticking to trade.
"More and more powers have been consolidated in Brussels rather than London. This is going to give the power back to the local politicians where it should be. I'm not against free trade. You don't need to be in a political union to be able to trade with them. Canada isn't in a political union with the United States or Mexico, but we've got free trade with them."
Fariya Faiyaz, 27, moved to East London from Toronto just over two years ago with her husband. The couple work in the city and bought a house last year, planning to eventually become naturalized citizens.
"In the short run, I'm really concerned about the same things as everyone else: the price of my house, the cost of living, are my groceries going to get expensive? In the long run, it has made me really grateful that I have Canada as an option. I know I have a family and a support system, and if the U.K. ever becomes a place where I'm not living the best version of my life … I could always come back and start again in Canada."
Mike Hepburn, 48, is the managing director of a software company based in California. He has lived in Britain for 21 years. He lives in Dorset with his Finnish wife and two children born in Britain.
"The Brexit campaign has unleashed forces that no one can control, creating a perfect storm of instability in the British economy. Britain could be in for a really rough ride for two or three years as the government tries to unwind itself. We price contracts in U.S. dollars, so as of today, all of our products became 8 to 9 per cent more expensive. It may slow down business generally as people defer strategic investments or other projects while they try to really figure out what Brexit means for their company."
Alexandra Abraham, 37, is a dual Dutch/Canadian citizen working as a manager at Haverstock School in London. Both her husband and baby are British citizens.
"Now in the hangover, you can recognize that just like Toronto is not indicative of Canada, London is not indicative of the rest of the country. As a friend put it: It's almost like the country has gone to war; we know something terrible is going to happen but we don't know what it is. Even if [Donald] Trump is elected in the U.S., worst-case scenario, in eight years he's gone. With this, there's no do-over. It's deeply, profoundly horrible for the future of this country."
Interviews have been edited and condensed. With a report from The Canadian Press