How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France

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Oliver Gee - [email protected]
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: AFP

Brexit is going ahead and things are moving quickly. But how has it affected Brits in France already?


It's been over four months since Britain voted to leave the EU and things are progressing. 
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May announced late last week that she would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March 2017, launching a two-year process that will cut ties between the UK and the EU. 
So how are expats or immigrants as many prefer to be called in France , taking it and has it changed their lives since last June? Members of the pro-EU Facebook group Remain in France Together have their say. 
Suffering from a falling pound
The talk of triggering of Article 50 saw the pound to euro exchange rate dip to €1.14, 20 percent lower than a high of €1.43 late last year. And British expats in France - particularly pensioners - are feeling the pinch.
Lynda Adcock said her family was €299.14 worse off for the month now when compared to last year.  
"Pension used to cover our bills but it doesn't now and we are having to top it up. How ridiculous is the situation that Brexit has caused and what for? Stupid!" she said. 
Debbie Coxon added that she had previously opened a Bed and Breakfast to cover the shortfalls of her pension, but that the falling value of the pound has cancelled out her efforts, financially at least. 
Worried after Brexit? Here's how to become French
Stress, stress, stress
Many are getting worked up worrying about their futures.
One man, Dave Smith was convinced that an "early grave beckons" due to his sleepless nights. 
Retiree Fiona Keen said she was playing the "worrying waiting game" to see whether she can continue to access the French healthcare system. 
As it stands, no one really knows how Brexit will affect anything, let alone how it will affect other expats in Europe. 
Theresa May keeps repeating "Brexit means Brexit" - but that doesn't mean much as yet. 
Applying for a new citizenship or French residency permit
Many people spoke out about applying either for French citizenship or another European citizenship in order to stay in France. 
Others have applied for the "carte de sejour" residency permit that guarantees the right to stay in France (see link below) and is an alernative safeguard for those who don't want to or who cannot, apply for French nationality.
Some said this was due to a shame in their own country (more on this later) but others said they wanted to do it just to be able to stay in France. 
Family feuds
The Brexit vote has caused rows to break out between expats in France and their families back in the UK. 
Expat Elizabeth Mackie said that her out-voting family members in the UK now refuse to speak to her. 
Shame in being British
David Wallen said: "People are telling me they are ashamed to be British," he said, adding that he was more keen to stay in France than before.
"Going back to UK for a few days next week and not looking forward to it.
Denise Fox added: "Cash low. Anxiety high. Ashamed to be British."
Sally Hipwood, who has started the process of becoming French, says she doesn't recognize the country she grew up in. 
"The UK seems to be full of violent bigots and delusional xenophobes - and I would be afraid to go back now and rely on the crumbling NHS for my healthcare," she said. 
The uncertainty
One thing that hasn't changed is the overwhelming uncertainty that comes with the Brexit vote, a mood that has hung over proceedings since the referendum was announced. 
What will it all mean and how will it affect the expats?
Time will tell. 
Ashwyn Smyth, who retired in France over eight years ago, says life has changed since the vote, leaving her feeling insecure and uncertain about the future.  
"After working since I was 19 and paying taxes, I looked forward to retirement as a time when I could relax and enjoy my life without the pressures and worries of a working life," she said.
"Since that fateful vote, not a day goes by without me worrying about the future and wondering where we will be in two, three or five years."



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