Lifestyle & Culture

British expats on no-deal Brexit: ‘This whole thing is appalling’

At the end of last week, it became increasingly clear Brexit negotiations are going nowhere, even to Prime Minister Theresa May.

In such a scenario, the United Kingdom (likely minus Scotland and Northern Ireland) would leave the European Union with no trade agreements, no visa treaties and no reciprocal rights of remain for expats.

That said, quoted EU President Jean Claude Juncker last week as saying expats should have no concerns about being forced to leave either the UK or the EU:

Why not say, easily, with common sense — which is not a political category, as we know — that things will stay as they are? The Europeans — ‘foreigners,’ as they are saying in London — they are there in the island, and so many British friends are here. Let them here, let them there. Why are we discussing nonsense like that?”

We asked British expats in various European cities about their concerns regarding a no-deal Brexit.

Here are some responses verbatim:

John Shaw, Fair Deal for Expats, Southern France

Long term British expats are a very vital element in rural economies throughout France, and many other European countries. We are the people who buy up the over-priced derelict properties, renovate them at our expense (often using local craftsmen), then pay our taxes that help to keep the small rural villages alive; or use the local producers and suppliers for all our daily needs.

Our pensions or earnings go into the local economy.

My village mayor tells me that without us, his beloved village would die – again! We saved it.

Our kids fill the local schools so they can continue to operate. Our cars are repaired and serviced at French garages. Very often we Brits participate in local activities and events, stand for election, fight for the well-being of our new homes, spend our money in the local shops.

So though we too fear a ‘no deal’ Brexit, we believe that the French Government will do everything in its power to ensure we stay. They will certainly never make us leave, in the way that the disgraceful British Govt is treating some EU citizens who live and work in the UK.

Our biggest concerns are, of course, our healthcare and our pensions.

Whether as pensioners or working people, we use and receive treatment from the French healthcare system exactly as though we were French citizens – we pay about 30 percent of the costs ourselves as they do, (and we take out insurance policies to enable us to pay for our portion).

The French government then recovers the 2/3rd costs of our treatment from the UK government. The UK government has said it will continue to honour that commitment to us; BUT they have backtracked and reneged on so many promises, can we trust them with this vital one?

They certainly could not afford having a quarter of a million British pensioners returning to the UK for NHS treatment!

Similarly, (May) has said the UK government will continue with the triple lock to protect and index our pensions. Once again, this is a spoken promise, but she has been known to change her mind, almost mid-sentence!

Can we who rely on our UK pensions be certain they will continue to grow and protect us from inflation? I certainly don’t see the French govenment wanting to pick up the tab for our continued healthcare or pensions.

They might have to do that if they offered us full citizenship! I think they are more likely to offer us a continued right to stay – carte sejours permanence – provided we are not a burden on the state! (BREMAIN in Spain chairwoman) Sue Wilson is right to be worried.

I fluctuate each day between great hope and despair at the continued antics of the buffoons who are currently in power in the UK.

• John Moffett, BREMAIN in Spain Vice Chairman

To be honest, we have no clear idea of what a no deal Brexit could have on UK citizens in the EU or EU citizens in the UK.

It really is too frightening a scenario; however, we have every confidence that the EU will continue to treat UK citizens in the EU in a similar way to today.

Jean Claude Juncker (European Union president) referred this week to his incredulity over the fact that citizen’s rights needed to be discussed as he said that things should stay as they are.

We prefer to call ourselves immigrants in Europe as it reflects on us in the same way that EU citizens are seen in the UK. We continue to work within the British in Europe coalition to fight to protect our current rights.

• Simon Jackson, Frankfurt

I am an expat in Frankfurt, originally from Northern Ireland, so I qualify and have an Irish passport as well as a British one.

I will be unaffected really. I worked in banking for 12 years and also have a good understanding of the economic consequences of such a move out of the EU, something the older generation who mostly influenced Brexit seemed not to grasp.

However the whole thing is appalling to us over here, that is the general consensus.

I also find that my German friends think the whole thing is ridiculous and they all hope there is a hard Brexit to teach them a lesson and make an example of why not to leave the EU. I tend to agree with them.

I can tell you most of British people I know that cannot get another EU passport are becoming fully fledged German citizens.

Now, this is quite a challenge as the main caveat is that you must attain an intermediate level of the language (B1) to pass the test so to speak. Previously the expats in Frankfurt, mostly the ones I know only speak English as you can get by in Frankfurt with only English, as very international city and of course the huge banking sector here.

I have lived here for 8 years and know many of the expats as I also help run and set up a weekly after works drinks every Friday. So of course current affairs is a regular conversation topic.

So, for the moment that is about all I can add.


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