Brexit already affecting Brit expats in France

Published:  6 Oct at 6 PM
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Four months after the devastating Brexit announcement, British expats in France are beginning to feel its effects.

A majority of Britishers living in France are either retirees on pensions or owners of small businesses serving mainly the local expat community. The initial shock of sterling’s fall following the referendum result hit hardest on retirees living on just the UK state pension. The currency’s partial recovery gave a brief respite, but Theresa May’s recent announcement that Article 50 will be triggered next March sent sterling into free fall again.

As a result, UK pensioners living all over France are now feeling the pinch, with many having to dip into their reserves to cover their everyday expenses. A recent media report revealed one expat family are now £299 worse off than at the same time last year, and another retired expat who’d started a bed and breakfast business to help make ends meet is faced with a shortfall again.

As if financial worries weren’t enough, continued stress due to concerns about the right to remain and heathcare issues is taking its toll on the expat community. One retiree is having to cope with sleepless nights, whilst another is afraid she will not be allowed to access French heathcare. For the majority, it’s the ‘not knowing’ that’s the real problem, and May’s endless repetitions of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ are simply adding fuel to the fire.

Many UK expats are seriously considering applying for French citizenship as the only secure way to stay in their chosen country. Others are investigating the requirements for a ‘carte de sejour’ permanent residency permit, the only alternative for those who are unable to qualify for citizenship. Some are even taking these drastic steps simply because they are now ashamed to be British.

Sadly, the Brexit vote has caused rifts between expats and their families back in the UK who voted to leave the EU. This and the shame felt by many is another reason for the rush to lose British citizenship. One expat retiree who has already applied for French citizenship told the media she now doesn’t even recognise the country of her birth, as it seems to be packed with bigots, violence ‘delusional xenophobes’, and a crumbling health service.
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