Big Brexit Interview – Part 2
British Expat Bloggers discuss their thoughts.
Continuing our interview series with British expat bloggers, we gain their unique perspectives on how Brexit is shaping their view of the world.
Our featured expat bloggers are:
Simon in the Netherlands – Amsterdam Shallow Man
Oliver in Germany – Frankfurt Expat
Melanie in Denmark – Dejlige Days
David in Spain – David Jackson
Emily in France – Lost in Lyon
Missed part one? Check it out here
Editor’s note: All opinions expressed in this article belong to the individual attributed and do not represent the opinion of Currency UK.
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Now that Brexit is officially in progress, has it affected your life as an expat in any way, either directly or indirectly?
Simon [Netherlands] – It hasn’t affected my life yet, but of course, if the UK crashes out of Europe in the so-called “hard Brexit” then I’m seriously worried about what my legal status in the Netherlands will be in the future as a British passport holder.
Oliver [Germany] – The main difference is that people regularly make jokes about me being kicked out of Germany in two years, or simply asking me whether I know what the arrangements will be! It seems that having a British passport somehow provides me with inside information direct from Downing Street.
Melanie [Denmark] – To be honest, it hasn’t impacted on me at all at present. I suppose one positive for me is that the weak pound means I can buy things at a cheaper rate but on the flipside, my parents living on a UK pension in France are feeling the pinch as their monthly pension is worth less now. The process of the UK leaving the EU is going to be a long one and I don’t think anyone, least of all politicians, really know what it will look like at the end.
David [Spain] – Yes, it has rather monopolised bar conversations! But on a more serious note, what has impacted upon us is the fall in the value of sterling since Brexit. This has had a sudden effect upon the local economy as expats living off UK pensions find they have less to spend each month. Other than that, not really.
Emily [France] – Brexit is something we think about on an almost daily basis because it has thrown our future into a state of complete uncertainty. We were never certain before that we would want to live in France indefinitely, but we at least knew that we had the option of doing so. Now we do not know whether that will be the case, and we are constantly debating whether to wait until we are pushed, or leave pre-emptively.
Strangely, too, although Brexit has made me feel ashamed of my country, I also feel more strongly that I should be there. It is as if there is a drawbridge that I can see being pulled up, and I am frightened of finding myself on the wrong side.
We also talk about whether or not to go for French citizenship, as many of our friends have done. It is a tortuous and sometimes upsetting process, so it’s not simply a question of filling out some forms. We would also have to have been here for five years in order to apply, which is not yet our case, and part of me feels too ground down and too uncertain about the future to contemplate starting the wheels turning in 2019. Genetically my husband is half-French, but for various complicated administrative reasons, he is not entitled to dual citizenship. Brexit and our concerns about nationality have led him to feel more cut off from his French heritage than he did before.
What hopes or fears do you have for the future of UK & EU expats?
Simon [Netherlands] – I hope that a reciprocal deal will be struck with the EU that guarantees the status of the many EU citizens in the UK and Brits living in EU countries. My fears are that the right-wing ideology of the current conservative government will lead to a hard Brexit. This will disrupt trade, damage the country and cause chaos for millions of EU and British citizens. I used to believe that turkeys, if given the choice, would never vote for Christmas. How wrong I was.
Oliver [Germany] – My fear is really that there will be excessive paperwork for British expats in Germany. Germany is bad enough when it comes to paperwork and forms, and this certainly won’t decrease with Brexit. The best that will happen is that we don’t really notice the change and that it was all a fuss about nothing.
Melanie [Denmark] – My fears are mainly based around what the referendum showed – that facts are meaningless to some voters and the fears about the negative impact of non-British people living in the UK was a driving factor for some voters. I fear that the UK will become very isolated from the rest of the world and that will not have a positive impact.
In realistic terms, I can’t see that once the UK leaves the EU that all expats will be asked to leave their lives in other EU states and return to the UK. However, I will do all I can to ensure that my life is protected in Denmark. Once I am eligible I will be looking into getting Danish citizenship and a Danish EU passport. The fact that my son is in a Danish school, my husband works for a Danish company, we own our home and I run my business here shows that we have a commitment and financial stake in Denmark and none in the UK.
I’m also sad that the next generation will not have the opportunities we have enjoyed. It will, however, make it harder for people in the UK to work and live in other countries but right now I am fairly pragmatic about how it will all turn out in the end.
David [Spain] – The biggest fear is for those retired people on fixed UK incomes who live here in Spain. They need to have access to local health care to continue living abroad, and currency fluctuations can seriously affect their quality of life.
Emily [France] – I hope that the UK will step back from its hostile rhetoric towards the EU, and that an agreement can be reached which does not alienate the UK completely. I also hope that the UK will extend a welcome to the EU expats living there, in the knowledge that their presence helps to enrich our culture and defend against small island syndrome. I am not optimistic that these things will happen, however.