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BREXIT

‘No-deal now a likely scenario’: Brits in EU fearful after Brexit deal rejected again

Lawmakers in London rejected Theresa May's Brexit deal for a third time on Friday, leading to a fall in value of the pound, the EU declaring an emergency summit and Brits around Europe increasingly worried about the likelihood of a no-deal exit.

'No-deal now a likely scenario': Brits in EU fearful after Brexit deal rejected again
Theresa May ponders a third defeat to her Brexit deal. Photo: AFP

British Prime Minister Theresa May lost the latest vote on her withdrawal agreement by 58 votes, a narrower margin than previous shattering defeats but a body blow nevertheless to her much-maligned Brexit plan.

The result of the vote means that at present Britain are heading out of Europe on April 12th – the extended deadline agreed between London and Brussels – unless the prime minister can come up with a plan B that satisfies Europe's 27 member states.

In that case the EU and Britain would have to agree to a longer extension which would likely mean the UK taking part in the elections for the European Parliament in May.

The increased likelihood of a no-deal sent the level of the pound falling on Friday as it ducked below the $1.30 mark for the first time since March 11th.

That meant bad news for all those retired Brits living in the EU who rely on their pensions to live. Currency experts say the level of the pound is unlikely to rise again until the Brexit conundrum is solved.

'It's a tough ride for Brits in Europe'

After the vote Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, called an emergency summit for April 10th, two days before Britain is due to leave the EU.

Britons in the EU will now be extremely concerned that the deadlock in Westminster could lead to the UK crashing out of Europe without a deal, which would lead to their rights being severely restricted.

Kalba Meadows from British in Europe and Remain in France Together said: “Nobody can be complacent about the risk of no deal though, as a long extension needs two things: a roadmap from the UK, and the unanimous agreement of all the EU27 heads of states.”

“It's a tough ride for Brits in Europe, as it is for all the 5 million, who are conflicted between needing certainty about our rights and not wanting to see a damaging Brexit.

“Parliament has to come up with an alternative that it can get behind. So the next key day will be Monday when we should get a sense of whether there's any hope of that happening,” said Meadows.

The EU said this week that its no-deal preparations were complete and individual EU states have all been passing laws to allow Britons to continue to stay and to give them time to register.

After the vote on Friday the EU commission said: “A “no-deal” scenario on 12 April is now a likely scenario. The EU has been preparing for this since December 2017 and is now fully prepared for a “no-deal” scenario at midnight on 12 April. The EU will remain united.”

And the French presidency said Friday that a vote by British lawmakers to reject Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal for a third time “increased very strongly the chances of a no deal exit”.

“The United Kingdom needs to urgently present an alternative plan in the next few days. Failing this, and it is becoming the most likely (outcome), we will see the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal,” read a statement issued by the presidential palace.

'End our uncertainty now!'

Nevertheless the campaign to have the citizens' rights aspect of the Withdrawal Agreement ring-fenced have so far failed to achieve success with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier suggesting it was a “distraction” this week.

British in Europe's co-chair Jane Golding told The Local on Friday that MPs must now end the uncertainty for the 1.3million Britons in Europe.

“Yesterday, Michel Barnier said that ring-fencing 5 million people’s citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit was a ‘distraction’ from securing a withdrawal agreement,” said Golding.

“Today’s House of Commons should give him and the EU 27 urgent pause for thought.”

“Since landing slots and Dover tailbacks get the most ‘No deal’ attention, we are happy to dress up as planes and haulage trucks if it gets the EU 27 to focus on real people and the nightmare that a crashing out Brexit poses for us.

“Once again we call on the EU and the UK to ringfence the hard won citizens' rights part of the withdrawal agreement now, before all the good work ends up in the bin and it's too late to take real people's lives' off the negotiating table.”

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BREXIT

‘Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed’ – How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

A new in-depth survey on British nationals living in the EU has revealed the impact that Brexit has had upon their lives, and their attitudes to their country of origin.

'Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed' - How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

The study, conducted by academics at Lancaster and Birmingham universities, provides a snapshot of how Brits in the EU live – their age, family, work and education – and how they feel about the UK in the six years since the Brexit vote.

Unsurprisingly, it revealed that Brexit has had a major practical impact on the lives of Brits living in the EU – who are now subject to third-country rules and require residency cards or visas and face restrictions on voting and onward movement within the EU.

But the survey’s 1,328 respondents were also asked about their emotions towards the country of their birth.

Eighty percent of respondents said it had changed their feelings towards the UK.

A British woman living in Norway said she felt: “Deep, deep shame. Embarrassed to be British, ashamed that I didn’t try hard enough, or appreciate my EU citizenship.”

“Since Brexit I am disappointed in the UK. I am worried, and no longer feel like I have the same affinity for the country. It’s a shame because I love ‘home’ but the country feels so polarised,” added a British woman in her 30s living in Denmark.

An Austrian resident with dual British-Irish nationality said: “I feel disconnected, like it’s a completely different country from how I left it.

“So much so I feel more connected with my second nationality (Irish) despite the fact I never grew up in Ireland. It’s embarrassing what’s happened in the UK and what continues to happen. It’s like watching a house on fire from afar.”

The experience of living abroad during the pandemic also affected people’s feelings towards the UK, with 43 percent of people saying the UK’s handling of the Covid crisis affected their feelings towards the county.

A British woman in her 50s living in Spain said: “It was shambolic. Too late, too little, mixed messaging, lack of seriousness. So many deaths after what should have been a head start.”

A British man living in Greece described it simply as “a shit show”.

In addition to the Brexit effect, the survey also provided interesting and detailed data on the lives and profiles of Brits who live in the EU;

  • 69 percent had degree-level education
  • 77 percent worked in a professional or managerial role
  • 53 percent are of working age
  • 59 percent have been living in their country of residence for more than five years
  • 78 percent said it was very unlikely that they would move countries in the next five years 
  • The most common reasons for moving country were retirement (40 percent), family reasons (35 percent) and work (30 percent)

Almost all respondents said that Brexit had impacted their lives, with the loss of freedom of movement being the most common effect mentioned.

One man said: “My original plan (pre-2016) was to move to France on retirement, due in 2026. Brexit caused me to move sooner, in order to retain my European citizenship rights. The pandemic helped (indirectly) in that I got locked down in France in 2020, which enabled me to earn residence under the pre-Brexit rules. I had been talking to my employer about doing something similar before the pandemic broke.”

“I moved to France in 2020 in order to protect my right to live and work in France post-Brexit. My migration is 100 percent a result of Brexit,” said one American-British dual national.

Other respondents talked about the post-Brexit admin necessary to gain residency status in their country, financial losses due to the weakening of the pound against the euro and the loss on onward freedom of movement – meaning that Brits resident in one EU country no longer have the right to move to another.

The report also highlighted that only 60 percent of respondents had changed their legal status by security residency since Brexit.

For some Brits in the EU this is not necessary if they already have citizenship of their country of residence (or another EU country such as Ireland) but the report’s author highlighted that: “It may also offer an early indicator that within this population there are some who may find themselves without legal residence status, with consequences in the future for their right to residence, and access to healthcare, welfare and work (among other services).”

READ ALSO What to do if you have missed the Brexit deadline in France 

In total 42 percent of respondents were completely disenfranchised – the 15-year rule means they can no longer vote in the UK, while the loss of EU citizenship means that they cannot vote in European or local elections in their country of residence.

The British government has recently announced the ending of the 15-year rule, giving voting rights to all UK nationals, no matter how long they live outside the UK. 

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