Four out of five British expats fear Brexit will strip them of rights to live abroad

Most British expatriates in the European Union are chiefly concerned that Brexit will strip them of their rights to live in their adopted country, according to the latest survey published on Wednesday.

Four out of five British expats fear Brexit will strip them of rights to live abroad

Around 83 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned” about the impact Brexit could have on the rights and benefits they enjoyed as an EU citizen, while only 3.8 percent answered “not at all”.

The survey of 5,000 Britons living in EU countries or Iceland, Norway and Switzerland was carried out by the European branch of the British Liberal Democrat party, which campaigned for Britain to stay in the EU.

The majority of respondents (57.6 percent) said that they had voted to Remain in the June referendum and only two percent said they voted to leave the EU.

More than a quarter of respondents (28.4 percent) said they had been unable to vote because they had lived outside the UK for over 15 years.

Over 58 percent said they did not plan to return to Britain, while 33.5 percent said they did not know. Only 7.7 percent said they had plans to return permanently to the UK.

Respondents said they wanted to retain the rights that came with EU membership, such as to reside in their countries of choice without permission, freedom of movement, and health care.

OPINION: Brexit and Brits in the EU: Bargaining chip or afterthought?

The majority of the survey group live in France or Spain and are aged between 55-74 years old.

Not surprisingly, the right to reside, automatic pension increases and S1 healthcare concerns were the top three concerns for Brits living in Spain and France.

The UK government has consistently said it will not act unilaterally to guarantee the right of three million EU citizens to remain in the UK until it has agreement that the EU 27 will do the same for the estimated 1.3 million UK nationals living in the EU.

Laura Shields, Chair of Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats said: “UK politicians must accept that the ‘right to reside' is not the same as an actual ability to stay.  Losing their EU citizenship will bring a myriad of practical problems for Brits in the EU which can’t be fixed in a quick quid pro quo residency deal with the EU 27. The government must think this through properly and ensure it doesn't throw us under Boris’s Brexit blunder bus.”

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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.