French expats in UK being forced out by xenophobia

Published:  10 Nov at 6 PM
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Tagged: France, UK, Canada, England
Even although the British government is doing its best to stress the post-Brexit guaranteed rights of EU expats in the UK, many French expats are leaving due to perceived xenophobia.

Many French expats who’ve lived long-term in the UK are hoping for a small miracle in that Brexit will simply go away. Many more, it seems, are experiencing increased xenophobia in their everyday lives in the UK and it’s persuading them to return to France, even although it’s a scary option. Their country of birth simply doesn’t feel like home to them any more, making the move challenging at best and traumatic at worst.

Whilst many EU expats are crossing their fingers and hoping against hope an acceptable deal will be struck, for 33-year old Alice Leclercq from Le Mans waiting for a deal isn’t an option. Alice lives in the Peak District with her British partner and had always expected to return to France at some time in the future. Since being the butt of xenophobic abuse after the referendum, she’s seen more and more open prejudice, even from those she thought were friends, and is now planning to leave as she feels far less than welcome.

Alice wasn’t alone in experiencing racist insults, according to Sylvie Bermann, a former French ambassador to the UK. Late last year, she reported her French compatriots were well aware of a post-referendum rise in verbal abuse against French expats, many of whom had lived in Britain for as along as a decade. Others had experienced problems with their use of British banks, as had Alice, who was recently refused a credit card in spite of her excellent credit record.

This and other bureaucratic nightmares have caused Alice to realise she’s simply not welcome any more. The British government, she says, are more than happy to tax me on my earnings as a process safety engineer, but I now feel ostracised and can’t wait to leave. She’s trying for a job in France, but admits returning is a scary option as the country is no longer ‘home’ to her. England is her home, and she’s being forced out due to Brexit and its effects.
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