Brexit and the British in France

Benson, Michaela. 2020. Brexit and the British in France. Project Report. Goldsmiths, University of London, London. [Report]

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Abstract or Description

This report Brexit and the British in France documents how Britons living in France have experienced this period of profound and protracted uncertainty. Nearly four years after the Referendum, it confirms that Brexit is far from over for these British citizens.

Key findings

- Britons living in France still feel in the dark about what Brexit means for their lives

France hosts the second largest number of UK nationals in the EU27, and is home to approximately 150,000 Britons. Official communications from the UK and French governments were slow to clarify what Britons living in France should do to secure their futures, and many have been unclear about where to turn for reliable information about specific concerns. They feel let down by the UK Government, while their encounters with the French state, often in local municipal offices, have created further confusion as local officers similarly find themselves lacking in the relevant information to give appropriate advice. This has left Britons in France with a sense that they are nobody’s responsibility but their own.

- Britons in France are responding to Brexit by taking matters into their own hands – but the results are uneven

Faced with a lack of clear information, unresolved questions and confusion over new residency requirements, Britons in France have taken matters into their own hands in order to secure their futures, for example by applying for residence permits or French citizenship. While some easily overcome the obstacles presented by the changing landscape of rights and entitlements brought on by Brexit, it is not so straightforward for others. It is clear that Brexit has already had uneven outcomes and consequences for the lives of British citizens living in France, not least because before the referendum very few Britons living in France had residence permits and French officials have struggled with the surge in applications.

- Britons in France are questioning their previously taken-for-granted identities

Brexit has brought to the fore questions about identity and belonging, the relationship of these Britons to Britain and Britishness, but also to Europe and Europeanness. These questions are mediated by their social relationships in the UK and in France. Participants’ perceptions of how the UK government has dealt (or failed to deal) with the concerns and issues that Brexit has raised for them also shape how they understand their continuing relationship to Britain.

Item Type:

Report (Project Report)

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Additional Information:

This report is based on findings from the BrExpats research project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council through their UK in a Changing Europe Initiative (Grant Number ES/R000875/1).


Brexit, UK nationals, European Union, France

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Date Deposited:

24 Feb 2020 14:16

Last Modified:

06 Mar 2020 11:37


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