Brexit bewilderment causing expat panic in paradise

Published:  29 Mar at 6 PM
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As the Brexit debate rages on, an exodus of British expats at present living in Europe is being touted as the likely result.

Concern is growing in British expat communities across Europe, fuelled by an almost total lack of hard information about the consequences of Britain’s leaving the European Union. Speculation and rumours about the loss of free healthcare, the introduction of frozen state pensions, the right to study overseas, higher taxes and a falling exchange rate are sowing panic amongst long-established communities of British retirees and workers.

Media reports state that many UK expats are seeking to take up dual nationality wherever possible, with others even preferring to claim citizenship of their adopted country in order to preserve their lifestyle rather than return to the UK. Spain is seeing around 100 Brits leaving every day, impelled by the EU’s increasing economic problems, and France has already announced that, should Britain vote to leave the EU, free healthcare will no longer be offered to expat residents.

The general opinion is that, should France take this step, Spain and other favourite European expat havens would almost certainly follow suit. The move would leave only one option for expats, the majority of whom would be unable to afford the punishingly high rates of commercial private health insurance. The effect of hundreds of thousands of elderly retirees hitting on the already staggering NHS after their return to the UK isn’t, it seems, being taken into consideration by pro-Brexit supporters.

Although it’s highly unlikely that Spain, France and other European expat hubs would expel British expats should the UK no longer be part of the EU, frozen pensions would hit hard on those wishing to stay. The many students now studying in affordable EU-based universities due to the recent massive increase in UK university fees would find themselves hit with equally massive price rises as well as losing the chance of benefiting from the EU’s Erasmus’ grant programme.
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