13 December 2019
The day started well: smiles at the polling booth, then lunch and dinner/dinner and tea with friends. We exchanged muted hopes and an ongoing incomprehension over copious salads and Neapolitan pizza. It rained a lot too. And then, the exit poll. 80. I shed angry tears. We started packing our bags.
The moment felt highly symbolic, as if one instant — the announcement of the exit poll results — had sealed our fate. We were packing up and leaving a country that had charted a worrying course. The travel details were now confirmed and millions had enthusiastically bought their tickets. Many of them had taken advantage of the early bird offer to sign up for this journey a couple of years ago and some had even registered their interest decades before. Others will be forced along that path. We, on the other hand, refuse, hence the packing.
One single moment that changes everything is a highly attractive device from a narrative perspective. And yet it simplifies how we ended up packing our bags to leave the UK the night of the General Election. The packing itself was measured, not frantic. It was performed through a systematic precision that could only come from experience. Our time in the UK during 2019 would total only three weeks. Our exile had already long begun.