Reactions of Brit expats in France to Brexit threat

Published:  1 Dec at 6 PM
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All 150,000 British expatriates living in France will ultimately be affected by Brexit, but the community as a whole is reacting in three specific ways.

Rather than taking the same stance over the Brexit threat to their lives, the UK expat community across the channel has divided into three very different sectors – those actively campaigning, those who are increasingly beset by worry and those who simply ‘keep calm and carry on’. The sectors themselves have split in to a total of six separate sets of reactions to the life-changing negotiations battle going on right now.

The oddest of the sub-groups contains Britons who actually voted ‘Leave’ as they were unhappy with the EU but happy to stay in France. The reality of Brexit still doesn’t seem to have dawned in them in spite of endless media coverage of the consequences of losing EU citizenship. The second ‘keep calm and carry on’ group seem to be rediscovering the British spirit evident during WWII, insisting the entire mess is a storm in a tea-cup and looking forward to saying ‘I told you so’ if it all sorts itself out in the end.

'Frexpats' who’re using their energy to grapple with the bureaucratic requirements of French nationality are the third sub-group, with their defection less about securing their rights than about the fact they feel they have more in common with French nationals than they do with their own. The Worriers are mostly Brit retirees on UK state pensions, and are genuinely scared about the prospect of being thrown out of France and forced to return to post-Brexit Britain. British government reassurances don’t console them, especially as they’re already suffering from the plunging pound’s effect on the meagre week pensions.

A small number of expats compose the Bremainer activist sub-group, all of whom are promoting British in Europe and Bremain in Spain as well as leading existing groups including British in France. They’re working hard to ensure British expat rights aren’t totally ignored by the rich and powerful, and appear in Brussels to visit EU negotiations and in Westminster in front of parliamentary committees. Several are concentrating on the thorny subject of healthcare for the aged and infirm.

Adjuncts to the activists in the last sub-sector are the Bremainer campaigners. It’s a large group, possibly of thousands, who’re insisting on having their voices heard. They’re very active on social media, sign endless petitions, support the activist group and even return to the UK to take part in demonstrations. The majority are still bitter about the referendum and its result, believing UK voters were lied to and deceived. Many were not able to vote from France due to the hated 15-year disenfranchisement rule.
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