'I'm giving up my UK passport': Brits in Germany share their heartbreak over Brexit day

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected] • 31 Jan, 2020 Updated Fri 31 Jan 2020 16:40 CEST
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As Brexit finally arrives, British citizens in Germany have been sharing their feelings about Brexit – from anger, frustration and sadness to feeling emotionally numb.

Rose Newell, 33, a Berlin-based copywriter and translator who grew up in Gloucestershire, moved to Germany in 2012.

She feels "emotionally dead" over Brexit "because it’s something that’s been hanging over me for a very long time".

“I’m not really feeling depressed or distraught or in shock or anything anymore because I’ve known it’s been coming," she told The Local. "But what I don’t know is if there’s much left to feel.”

Newell’s future in Germany is secure because she acquired German citizenship a year ago. But she is worried about complications she could face if she wants to return to the UK in future with her non-British partner.


David Moore, 80, in Germany said he felt “angry and horrible” that the UK was finally leaving the EU. 

Simon in Cologne said he felt “disgusted and sad” and added “it should have never come to this”. Brexit has led Simon to consider giving up his British passport.

Photo: DPA

He said: “It has made me decide not on being both British/German (currently possible), but German instead and I have decided to eventually (on my own timeline) renounce my British "citizenship", especially as I did not have the right to vote in the referendum. 

"I am repelled by the UK and the past 3.5 hyper stressful years – and this nonsensical process hasn't even really begun yet.”

Rachel Riesner-Marriott, a volunteer with citizens’ rights group British in Germany who has lived in Berlin for nearly eight years, said: “Overall my feelings now Brexit is happening are mostly resignation and sadness.

"It is a terrible tragedy that we are witness to the removal of rights we were born with and discrimination of EU27 citizens in our home country alongside the plethora of problems that have been predicted to now follow. 

“On Friday evening I will be spending the evening celebrating our shared Europeanness and mourning the loss of my rights. This is not a happy day but a day I hope to see reversed in the future.”


Musa Okwonga, 40, a writer and poet from London, moved to Germany in 2014. He told The Local he was “at peace” with the fact Brexit was happening but added: “I’m angry about it on a wider level”.

“I’m nervous at what it will do to my health insurance costs and my bureaucracy. I’m angry for the people who will never get the opportunity to make a life for themselves in another country like I’ve had.”

Okwonga said he had built up a “far greater community in Germany than I had in the UK in just five years”.

READ ALSO OPINION - if the UK won't stand up for the rights of Britons in Europe then it's up to us

“And people from now on can’t say that,” he said. “And that’s heartbreaking. I’m worried about the next people. It’s not fair that that opportunity has been taken away from people who are now alive or people who are yet to be born. It’s so unfair.”

Suzan French in Germany said she felt "gutted, especially for young Brits".

Neil Cummins, 53, originally from the UK and now in Berlin, said: "I feel sad, but I feel cheated more than sad. It’s happening so you’ve got to accept that it’s happening. It’s going to damage the country, it’s going to damage people’s jobs, it’s going to damage the future. 

Neil Cummins in Berlin. Photo: Rachel Loxton

"For a Brit living in Germany, we’re a laughing stock. We're like a country putting a wall round our country."

Many of the readers we talked to said they felt particularly sad about losing their EU right to freedom of movement after the transition period.

Cummins said: "To have it taken away it’s heartbreaking.

READ ALSO: Hiding under the duvet with a bottle of wine: How Brits in Germany will mark Brexit day

"What happens is you don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it. The best part of being a member of the EU and we’ve voluntarily given it up. It’s madness, absolute madness."

But he has hope for the future.

"The Brits who didn’t get a vote, the kids didn’t get a vote: them kids wanted to stay in the European Union. We are going back in."

Scottish comedian Chris Davis, 34, who's been in Berlin for over a decade, added that freedom of movement ending is "the worst thing ever".

REMINDER: What the Withdrawal Agreement means for British citizens in Germany

"It concerns me very much that my British passport isn’t going to allow me the freedom of movement that I once had," he told The Local.

"I came here 11 years ago on a whim and I've since found a career. Not just a job, a career of which I can sustain myself. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for freedom of movement."

Davis said he'd thought about giving up his British citizenship for a German one.

"I would have no problem giving up my British passport," he said.



Rachel Loxton 2020/01/31 16:40

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