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BREXIT

Chances of Brexit being called off are at 30 percent, says EU chief

The chances of Brexit being cancelled and the UK staying in the EU are as high as 30 percent, said EU chief Donald Tusk on Friday. He believes Brexit has awoken a pro-EU movement in Britain.

Chances of Brexit being called off are at 30 percent, says EU chief
EU chief Donald Tusk. Photo: AFP

Tusk, the president of the European Council said the chances of Brexit being called off were rising due in the main to the fact that in his view the British public would reject leaving the EU in a second referendum.

The EU's most senior official believes that if Britain voted again today then the outcome of any IN/OUT referendum would be different to that of June 2016.

Tusk believes Remain would win the second vote because British voters had only really realised the impact of Brexit after the first referendum had taken place.

“A real debate about the consequences of Brexit wasn't had during the referendum campaign, but only after the vote. Today the result would probably look different. Paradoxically, Brexit awoke in Great Britain a pro-European movement,” Tusk told Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, in an interview shared with other European newspapers.

 

“The referendum was at the worst possible moment, it is the result of a wrong political calculation,” he added, in a reference to former PM David Cameron's decision to offer voters a referendum as part of his 2015 election manifesto.

“After the British referendum in 2016, I thought that if we recognise that the case is closed, it will be the end. Today the chance that Brexit will not happen is in my opinion 20 to 30 percent. That's a lot,” he said.

“From month to month, it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK's exit from the EU will look completely different than the Brexit that was promoted. I see no reason to capitulate,” Tusk said.

“Even if we repeat that the referendum is the expression of will by the nation and the will of the nation must be respected, yes, you have to respect it,” he said.

“But the 2016 referendum was not the first on the UK's membership of the EU. The first was in 1975 when the British, two years after entering the EEC, decided to remain in it.

“If the 2016 referendum was able to change the result of the 1975 referendum, why can it not be changed again? Nothing is irreversible until people believe it is.”

Talks between Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to find a deal that can be put to parliament appear to have stalled.

This week Corbyn, who has been reluctant to back a second referendum, said a re-run of the vote could act as a “healing process”.

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VISAS

‘Be ready to wait’: Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Now that Britain is out of the EU, just how much harder is the process of moving to France from the UK after Brexit? British readers share their experiences of applying for visas as 'third country nationals’.

'Be ready to wait': Your tips for getting a French visa post-Brexit

Whether you’re moving to France to live, or you’re a second-home owner wanting to spend more than 90 days out of every 180 in France, if you’re British you will now need a visa.

You can find more on how to apply for a visa, and how to understand what type of visa you need, in our visa section HERE.

But how these systems work in practice is not always the same as the theory.

To learn more about the process of getting a visa as a UK national, The Local asked British readers for their experiences of going through the system.

The consensus among respondents was that the whole thing was bureaucratic, though there were notable differences in experiences that ranged from the “easy” to the “complicated” and “time-consuming”, while the advice for future applicants was, routinely, have all your paperwork ready – and be prepared for a lengthy wait at one of the UK’s TLS centres

Appointments

Like most visas, French visas for UK nationals must be applied for before you leave home. You can find a full explanation of the process here, but the basic outline is that you apply for the visa online, and then have an in-person appointment in the UK in order to present your paperwork. 

Sue Clarke told us: “As long as you get all your paperwork together correctly and in the right order, the time it takes to receive your passport back with the visa in it once TLS has sent it off is only a few days.

“TLS – the centre which works on behalf of the French Embassy to collate your application – is so very busy,” she added. “That part of the process took hours even when you have an appointment.”

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: What type of French visa do you need?

“The visa process itself was fairly well run, and a decision for the initial visa was quick,” wrote Ian Sheppard, who successfully applied for a visa in July 2022. 

“Although getting the follow up residence permit was a pain, [and] took longer than expected, and there was little to no communication with severely limited ways to get in touch about the application.”

Sheppard thought that, biometrics apart, the process could have taken place online, and wondered whether the follow-up residence permit application could be more closely linked to the initial visa application, “rather than effectively submitting the same application twice”.

Georgina Ann Jolliffe described the process as “stressful”. 

“A lot of the initial stage was unclear and I needed a lot of reassurance about the visa trumping the Schengen 90 days. (The Local helped on that one),” she wrote. 

“[The] lack of ready communication was very stressful. It could be slicker, however staff at Manchester TLS were excellent.”

Jacqueline Maudslay, meanwhile, described the process as “complicated”, saying: “The waiting times for the appointment with the handling agent (TLS in the UK) are long and difficult to book online. We applied for a long-stay visa and were given a short-stay visa, with no reasoning and no option of talking to anyone.  

“We had met every criteria for the long-stay visa. There needs to be a contact link with the French Consular website directly for discussing visa applications.”

Handling agent TLS’s website – the first port of call for applicants from the UK – was a target for criticism.

“The TLS system is probably the most user unfriendly system I have ever used,” wrote Susan Kirby. “It throws up errors for no legitimate reason and even changes data you have keyed in. Dates are in American format so you have to be very careful and it can be very difficult to edit.”

Bea Addison, who applied for a visa in September 2021 with a view to retiring in France, agreed that it was complicated and believes the French system is chaotic and badly organised compared to other countries. “Even staff in the French Embassy in London were not knowledgeable of the process and documentation,” she wrote.

“The renewal in France was applied for in July 2022 … we have received an attestation that we will be granted renewal visas, which expired in October 2022, but we have not yet received a date to attend the préfecture due to a backlog.

Second-home owners

Many of our survey respondents were not moving to France, but were instead second-home owners who did not want to be constrained by the 90-day rule.

They have the option of remaining residents of the UK and applying for a short-stay French visitor visa – which must be renewed every year.

Second-home owner Peter Green told us: “Our appointment with TLS was delayed by two and a half hours and the whole experience was chaotic.

“We now have to go through exactly the same process again to get a visa for 2023. With second-home owners there should be a fast track that just involves proving financial viability, nothing else has changed. The system needs to be fully computerised.”

Second-home owner Alan Cranston told us his application met with no problems, but came with “unwanted cost and effort”. 

“Our six-month visa was for our first stint at our house in France in the spring, and that then overlapped our second visit in the autumn which was under Schengen. How that is handled seems to be a muddle (we did not leave the country for a day at the end of the six months, as some advise),” he said. 

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