UK expat communities in France defined by Brexit

Published:  5 Jul at 6 PM
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Britons living in France are feeling the effects of Brexit in ways they didn’t exactly expect.

The stereotypical British expat in France is retired, living in the countryside and has problems with the French language as well as the French way of life. According to many online articles, Little Britain is alive and kicking across a country famous for its historic revolution against its monarchy, thus cementing its reputation as revolutionary. Whilst Britons whose lifestyles may be devastated by a hard Brexit aren’t exactly calling for the introduction of the guillotine across the Channel, Brexit is affecting them in unexpected ways.

General confusion and concern about their futures is now the norm across the majority of France’s UK expat communities, especially as there’s a high number of dual-national families in the demographic. Many more are locally employed or have their own businesses and the majority enjoy a reasonable level of integration within local communities. A major issue is their children’s futures, especially as regards university education. However, the Brexit effect runs even deeper with many due to its emotional impact on their sense of identity.

A frequently–heard comment from expats who’ve achieved economic and social integration is, ‘they voted against everything we are’, and those who’ve lived long-term in France are still angry they couldn’t vote in the close-call referendum. Others have grown-up children who’re working or studying either in the UK or in other EU member states, with losing free movement a painful prospect. Stereotypes don’t fit into this equation, with Brexit bringing to the fore the vast difference and diversity of the expat community in France, the majority of whom are hoping and praying they can stay where they feel they belong. Brexit, it seems, goes to the heart of people’s understanding of themselves as well as their and their families’ places in the world.
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