British expats living in France fear they will be “thrown out” of their adopted country if the UK fails to secure a Brexit deal. The 200,000 British citizens living across the Channel face a nail-biting few weeks as negotiations to depart the EU drag on.
Although the French president Emmanuel Macron has reassured UK citizens they will not need visas to visit France, he stopped short of saying those already residing there would not be turfed out.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Katrina Murray, 37, who works as an independent financial adviser, said: “Everyone’s very scared.
“People don’t know what’s going to happen and some think they are going to be thrown out.”
Last week, hundreds of concerned Britons met with the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn, in Bordeaux.
He admitted he could not put their fears to rest, saying: “There are some issues, quite a lot of issues, to which we don’t yet know the answer.”
Previously, UK citizens did not require a visa to live, work or study in France and the slow pace of life has for many years lured older expatriates to rural areas and the coast while young professionals are drawn to face-paced cities such as Paris and Lyon.
But while British expats elsewhere on the continent may face some uncertainty about the impact of Brexit, those in France are in a unique position.
European nationals are not required by French law to register in the country.
To determine their right to remain in the country, UK nationals will have to prove how long they have resided there, something which may cause issues for those who have not paid taxes.
Brexit may also affect UK nationals who own property in France as it may trigger a change in inheritance and tax laws.
Junior Brexit minister Robin Walker has called on France to guarantee British expats a right to remain to ease their anxiety.
A draft bill which gives the government the power to adapt or suspend the need for residence permits and visas for Brits has been tabled in the upper house of the French parliament.
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