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Brits in France: Forgotten by Brexit?

Charles Platiau, REUTERS | A poster with information for British people on how to live and work in France after Brexit, which is a part of the advertising campaign 'Get ready for Brexit', is displayed in Paris, France, October 17, 2019.

There’s an estimated three hundred thousand of them, from workers to pensioners, students and unemployed people: British citizens living in France. All have one thing in common: uncertainty about how their lives could be about to change due to Brexit. FRANCE 24 has been to meet three of them.

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“Totally forgotten.” That’s how actress, singer and vocal coach Sarah Tullamore feels she and the estimated 1.5 million other British citizens living in Europe have been treated. 

A resident of France for 23 years, Sarah was unable to take part in the 2016 EU membership referendum because of a rule that stops UK citizens being able to vote back home if they have spent more than 15 years living outside the country.

It’s estimated that several hundred thousand others are in the same position.

“I personally don’t see how the government can keep going on about the will of the people when so many British citizens were not allowed to vote,” Sarah told FRANCE 24.

 

Stuck in one place?

Other concerns include losing the freedom of movement around the European Union. Even if the UK does leave the EU with a deal, UK citizens currently living in Europe will have to apply for the right to remain where they are, and they will face new hurdles if they try to move on to another EU member state in the future.

“I came to France three years ago, on a bit of a whim,” said Dan Jacobs, a software engineer working in the Paris region. “After Brexit it’s unlikely I’d be able to just go to another country on a whim again. It’s unlikely I’d be able to just apply for some random job in Germany and walk into it. I’d have to get a visa, get approval.” 

Phil Tandy has family in France and moved across the Channel with his wife after the referendum result. 

“My main concern about Brexit is having the freedom to move freely between the UK and France. That’s one of the reasons why we came to live in France, to actually try and preserve that right,” said Phil.

As Boris Johnson declared he’d found a deal with the European Union, FRANCE 24 found out how British people in France thought the future was likely to unfold for them.

Click on the video above to watch this story.

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