Brits in France left stunned after UK votes for Brexit

After the UK voted to leave the EU and the pound was sent crashing, British nationals living in France have been left stunned and concerned about the future.

Brits in France left stunned after UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

Britain has voted to leave the EU, by an expected margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, sending shockwaves around Europe.

After it initially appeared that the “Remain” campaign was on course for victory, the results that drifted in throughout the early hours of Friday morning proved that many opinion polls, the bookmakers, and political experts had got it wrong.

The result sent the value of the pound crashing, recording its biggest drop in over 30 years. Financial forecasters believe it will tumble even further throughout the day.

While the result will have major bearing on the future of Europe and on the futures of Britain's political parties, it will also have a major impact on the lives of many Brits living throughout the EU.

The fall in the value of the pound will have severely hit the value of pensions – often the only form of income for British expats and may make it unaffordable for many to stay abroad.

Brian Cave, who lives in the Lot, south western France said: “We feel sick inside – as though a dear relative has died. We feel deserted, abandoned. The future seems bleak for the nation and for us as individual British citizens.

“Our income will fall greatly. Investments will take a plunge.

“All we can do for now is as the WWII poster which was prepared for a German Invasion said….Keep Calm and Carry On! 

“Great Britain has ceased to exist. It is no more. Ignorance and stupidity have won.”

Tina Beach, who lives in Pas de Calais, northern France, said she was in shock. 

“We will be making the necessary arrangements to become resident back in the UK in order to protect our much-needed healthcare and state pension, as no doubt further down the line these EU regulated benefits will be affected.

“We see this as a dark day for the UK and for the many British citizens in the EU, and our counterpart migrants from the EU living and working in Britain.”

Olivier Campenon, the president of the Franco-British chamber of commerce in Paris said: Many scenarios were outlined during the campaign but the truth is that we do not know what follows, except that we are facing a different Europe.”

Many of The Local's readers in France took to Twitter to express their feelings.


And of course it's not just British nationals in France and the EU who are feeling deeply uneasy on Friday. The hundreds of thousands of French and other EU nationals in the UK have also been left shocked and concerned by the result.

With the plunging pound, many have seen the value of their earnings tumble.

The exact impact of the Brexit may not be made clear for some months, with negotiations likely to take up to two years.

Writing for The Local before Thursday's referendum, EU legal expert George Peretz QC, who was hoping to retire to France said life will certainly get more complicated for British nationals living in France.

“In short Brexit would throw everything into the air and we don’t know where or how it will all land,” Peretz said.

“Britain would have to negotiate with the EU as a bloc and if some eastern European countries are not happy with their nationals being barred from working in Britain then countries like France and Germany could stand with them.

“Of course people won’t be just sent back on the next flight. That’s just scaremongering. Nothing will immediately or drastically change, but it will certainly become more complicated for people to go and live in France.”

In the run up to the referendum a UK parliamentary committee concluded that Brits living in France and other EU countries would be left in “ghastly” legal limbo for years.

The committee's chair, the Conservative MP Lord Boswell of Aynho said: “The rights of some two million UK citizens living abroad would need to be determined, as would the rights of a similar number of EU citizens living in the UK.

“This is complex stuff – you are talking about the right to residence, to healthcare and to schooling, about maintenance payments and access to children, about research projects and contracts that cross borders, sorting all this out would be a daunting task.”

While many believe agreements will be made to preserve the status of Brits living in the EU and EU nationals living in Britain, many won't want to wait that long.

SEE ALSO: Worried after Brexit? Here's how to become French

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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.