Brexit campaign chief seeks French residency

London (AFP) –


Former British finance minister Nigel Lawson, who chaired the official pro-Brexit campaign, faced claims of hypocrisy Thursday after it emerged that he is applying for a French residency card.

Conservative politician Lawson, who chaired the successful Vote Leave campaign during Britain's referendum on its European Union membership, said he has started the paperwork required for a "carte de sejour".

"I've just started, and don't know how it will work out but am not particularly worried," the 86-year-old told expatriate newspaper The Connexion.

Speaking of the paperwork, he said: "It comes under the category of 'tiresome' rather than 'serious'."

Paul Butters, spokesman for anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, said Lawson's application "takes the biscuit".

"It seemed to Lawson that no cost was not worth paying to leave. But with this news, it seems the cost will be paid by others while the former chancellor suns himself in his luxury home in France," he said.

"The former chancellor looks like a hypocrite."

In the interview, Lawson also addressed concerns that some expat Britons have over healthcare coverage once the Brexit cut-off is complete.

"I understand some people are worried about healthcare cover and hope it will be sorted out," he said.

"Speaking as a Brit in France -- and I'm not applying for French nationality -- I am not worried."

Lawson was also adamant that Brexit would provide benefits to Britain -- but insisted that it depends on how Prime Minister Theresa May manages the transition.

Her Conservative minority government is "weak and is not doing a particularly good job", he said.

"There are things we'd like to do that we can't now because we don't have the autonomy. But that control can be used competently or not," he said.

"If it is, I believe the UK will benefit increasingly over the years, if not, we'll suffer."

Lawson also said he expects an agreement between Britain and the EU over expats and security, but believes could initially be no trade deal.