Brexit: Britons in Europe urged to look on bright side of ‘devastating’ UK election result

Brexit: Britons in Europe urged to look on bright side of 'devastating' UK election result
Britons in Europe were on Friday having to get used to the idea that "Brexit was happening and nothing was going to stop it now". But they were also urged to look at the positive aspect of the UK election result.

The victorious prime minister insisted on Friday he would do everything to get Brexit done by January 31st.

Brexit he said was now the “irrefutable, irresistible, unarguable will of the British people”.

There will be many Britons in Europe who might still dispute that but most seemed to accept on Friday, some for the first time, that the UK will leave the EU and they would no longer be European citizens.

Many Brits in Europe took to social media groups to express sadness, shock and anger that the UK, or at least England and Wales, had effectively voted for Brexit once again.

Their reactions echoed those that followed the shock 2016 referendum result.

“It's a devastating morning for all of us – we know that people are shocked and angry and hurting, as we are ourselves after three and a half years of campaigning,” Kalba Meadows from British in Europe told The Local.

“Yesterday there was still a glimmer of hope that we might remain in the EU; today that's gone – it's a true Friday the 13th. So today is a day to mourn and take stock.”

But Meadows and others who have been sticking up for the rights of Britons in Europe have stressed there is at least something positive to take from Boris Johnson's win.

Much of the uncertainty that has blighted the lives of many and impacted the health of some will soon come to an end.

“There is some not so bad news too – our future rights will now be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, and we no longer have the spectre of a no deal Brexit that has kept us up at night for so long,” she said.

“It's not perfect – we lose our voting rights and our right to free movement for example – but it's lifetime protection of the majority of the rights we have now, and it'll stand even if the government doesn't reach a trade deal with the EU. And of course there will be no change for us until the end of the transition period.”

For many it was time for Brits in the EU to face the music.

“There is no other way out than Brexit happening on January 31st,” Germany-based British political commentator Jon Worth told The Local on Friday morning. “Nothing can stop this now.”

The hope of Brexit not happening “that stayed alive to a certain extent for the last three and a half years since the referendum is now definitively extinguished,” Worth said.

Justine Wallington from the campaign group Remain in France Together (RIFT) also suggested that there was a plus side to the “unpleasant shock” of the result.

“We mourn the imminent loss of our European citizenship, however, with respect to citizens' rights for those who are already resident before any cut off date (probably end of 2020), we face an improved situation compared to last October.

“Previously, current residents were facing a “no-deal” scenario and having to rely on the French Decree and now we are probably looking at the Withdrawal Agreement being agreed. This should secure many of our rights in an international treaty for the rest of our lives.

READ ALSO: A reminder of what the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement means for Brits in Europe

“Some rights likely to be retained are the S1 medical cover, pension uprating, pension aggregation and more. Some rights we will probably lose – voting rights in local and EU elections in France at the end of January and onward freedom of movement at the end of the transition period.”

That transition period is due to end in December 2020 – just 12 months from now – although it may well be extended despite Boris Johnson having vowed not to.

However future generations who want to move and in Europe after the transition period have no idea what conditions will be imposed on them.

That will all be decided in the coming months and years.

The pressure group Brexpats Hear Our Voice sounded a more defiant note after the election result.

“Understandably there is shock, disappointment and anger reverberating around our group right now,” a spokesperson told The Local. 

“Our members are predominantly British and live across the EU. But we are standing firm. We will continue to fight for the protection of our rights and, more than ever, we stand in solidarity and support of our EU friends who have suffered abominably thanks to the callous and careless words of Boris Johnson. Now his party has a large majority, he will have to take full responsibility for all things Brexit. 

“We will continue to stand up for and defend the European Union's fundamental values, which we believe in, and as a reminder they are respect for human dignityand human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These values unite us all. 

“This is also an opportunity for us to make a fresh start to get citizens' rights to the top of the agenda, and you can bet we are going to make a lot of noise about it.”

Some UK citizens in Europe were grateful that they could now at least look forward.

Clive Williams said: “For me personally this gives a way ahead with a withdrawal agreement that should protect my rights having decided to live in France 18 years ago. So now the uncertainty is gone, some bureaucracy is required and I can continue to live in a tolerant, beautiful country.”

Many spoke of the steps they will now take to secure their future in the EU, even if meant having to overcome some bureaucratic and linguistic hurdles.

Mary Hartley said: “This is a very sad day for me, I honestly did not believe that it would come to this but that’s made my mind up to go for dual nationality.”

Christine Craik had a similar reaction.

“I'm gutted. But it has made my decision easier to apply for French nationality,” she said.

Andrew Crowe said: “I need to be fluent in French fast to pass the nationality test. My life, family and business are here in France yet if i am not fluent i cannot be a citizen.”

 

While many Brits spoke of being grateful they were living in the EU given the Brexit chaos that has engulfed the UK, one reader Thomas Lam was not looking forward to the future.

“I am so genuinely disheartened and devastated by the result of the election,” he said. “I'm moving back to the UK in the next few days, but now I'm not sure if I want to.”

 

 

 

 


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