British expats rushing to become citizens of France

Published:  19 Jan at 6 PM
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Figures from France’s ministry of the Interior have confirmed rumours of a huge increase in applications for citizenship from UK expats.

The French governmental department’s figures of around 3,173 British expats who’ve applied to become French citizens don’t come as a surprise, as the anecdotal evidence has been around for a good while. The numbers show an almost tenfold increase in applications over the figures for 2015, and confirm the anti-Brexit stance of British expats living and working in France. It’s expected a proportion of applicants may well be long-term residents in France who were unable to vote in the Brexit referendum due to the UK’s 15-year disenfranchisement rule.

It’s obvious that, as the Brexit negotiations stumble onwards, thousands of UK expats are looking to secure their futures in France rather than having any faith the British government will revert to sanity before March 2019. As citizens, loss of rights will no longer be on the cards, and France’s many expat-run small businesses will continue to provide their services to Britons and French nationals alike. To date, some, 1.518 Brits are now French citizens, with the numbers expected to soar still further as Brexit approaches.

France-based journalist Alex Taylor recently received his citizenship, telling reporters he considered it a 'small victory over Brexiters' attempts to remove his European identity and rights’. Many applicants are simply motivated by practical reasons such as avoiding immigration and customs queues, but others are more concerned over continuing social benefits and healthcare. Once their French nationality is confirmed, former Brits will be able to cast their votes in French elections and retain their freedom of movement within the European Union.

Importantly, many more UK applicants feel a loyalty and affinity to France as their chosen country and long-term home. Expat David Abbot has lived in Niort with his wife since 2004, and was already considering nationality by the time the referendum took place. He’s long felt estranged from the direction in which the UK is heading, and feels far more in tune with the French ethos. He told reporters he’s 71 years of age and doesn’t want to be barred from living in the country he loves, adding he relates far more strongly with the French than he does with English people.
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