How Brits in the EU feel about Brexit

… “ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed”

Brexit graphic

Thanks to PeterA for a link to an interesting report covered in thelocal.de about the way that Expats in the EU feel about Brexit in 2022

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.https://buy.tinypass.com/checkout/template/cacheableShow?aid=lGr3ciYmC7&templateId=OT5SEJN4J6F9&templateVariantId=OTVY91XJ33EJ3&offerId=fakeOfferId&experienceId=EXNO310RWAOQ&iframeId=offer_1bd39f4ecef8edb31199-0&displayMode=inline&pianoIdUrl=https%3A%2F%2Fid.tinypass.com%2Fid%2F&widget=template&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thelocal.de

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).”

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. 

COVID-19 in Madeira: updates can be found in an earlier post

26 thoughts on “How Brits in the EU feel about Brexit”

    • The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have been very good for the Tories. They have been able to hide many of the adverse affects of brexit behind them.

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  1. Throughout the Brexit shambles Portugal has put a “comforting arm” around their expat and potential expat shoulders trying to help with the difficulties caused by it and alleviate those feelings of embarrassment, shame and disappointment – so obrigado President Marcelo and Prime Minister Da Costa.

    Timely report in the Guardian a few days ago where the ironically named Minister for Brexit Opportunities – none other than Jacob Rees-Mogg is now singing from the Remainers hymn sheet by saying implementing Brexit in full and taking back control of our borders would be ” an act of self harm ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/29/jacob-rees-mogg-brexit-disaster-leaving-eu-boris-johnson

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  2. … “Ashamed, Embarrassed, Disappointed” !! Sounds like a good name for UK’s next Eurovision entry ? (or) The English football club manager’s post match interview after the next world cup failure !!! …

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  3. Brexit was a label on a box that no one opened. The lies were clear in 2016 The U.K. will soon drop out of the G7

    Productivity is too low to be able to afford NHS, Pensions and “care in the community “.

    RPI is being removed in 2030 but today shows inflation trending up to double digit

    Great to be a resident of Portugal

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  4. The problem with this type of survey is that those with a grudge are more likely to respond. Also the way the survey is designed and worded can distort the responses. Only 1,328 responded yet there are hundreds of thousands of Brits living in the EU. Moving to another Country is a big decision and there will always be consequences beyond your control and you have to accept this.

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    • When the Tories no longer have the pandemic and the war in Ukraine to use as excuses for all of Britain’s problems, and the world gets back to normal, increasing numbers of people will discover the real cost of brexit. That and 12 years of austerity have done for our country. The U.K. is the sick man of Europe. So sad to see our once great country, with so much influence in Europe and the rest of the world brought so low.

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    • “Only 1,328 responded yet there are hundreds of thousands of Brits living in the EU.”
      Statistics Methodology does not seem to be your forte.

      And about those holding a grudge, and are more likely responding.
      Would that not apply to both pro and contra grudge holders?

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  5. OMG The expats wanted it both ways . They don’t want to live in the UK but expect to retain their Britishness. How many come home each year for health reasons? If they want to live in Europe good luck to them but embrace their new countries, take up residence, learn the language and don’t expect people in the UK who did not like the EU to feel sorry for them.

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    • Typical lack of empathy so prevalent in the UK, yes some may not have residence but most do and unlike far too many xenophobic little Englanders the Portugese don’t have a ” hostile environment” towards immegrants, which lets face it we Brits are not some superior race that only refer to themseves as “expats”. I hardly recognise the country I grew up in and lived in for almost 50 years, it sadens me to be saying this but our once great nation is rapidly losing any standing on the global stage and this has been totally selfinflicted by the mostly Shire County “I’m alright Jack” bugger everyone else mentality that swollowed the neo liberalism of Thatcher and Reagan, bought their council houses or spec houses in the 60s and 70s made a killing and then claim they worked hard for the capital gains achieved over the last fourty years! I am one of those who benefitted from free enducation and saw my house price increase by a factor of 10 over 35 years but never have I failed to acknowledge my luck or claimed todays youth have it better than we did or that they are just lazy and lack drive. This toxic attitude helped convince me leaving when I did was tge best decision

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    • So basically you are saying that it is wrong to want to live in another Country, but retain the country of your birth as your Nationality? If you live in another country you should no longer be British? What a strange attitude!

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    • QUOTE from Bill:

      If they want to live in Europe good luck to them but embrace their new countries, take up residence, learn the language and don’t expect people in the UK who did not like the EU to feel sorry for them.

      Isn’t that a little bit harsh on the DUP ?

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  6. The UK had to do something to get control of immigration before it completly lost its identity, culture, way of life, etc and the growing unhappiness of the population about the unrestrcted immigration policies set by the EU. The people voted and their decision should be respected.

    Now the UK has control of immigration, it is in charge of its own destiny, it will be interesting to see if it takes advantage of this situation.

    New Zealand is a good example of immigration policy. To qualify for immigration you have to be within a certain age band, have an acceptable qualification that is needed in NZ, have relivant work experience, speak the language and have a job offer. You cannot claim benefit until you have been a tax payer for at least 2 years. This ensures migrants contribute from their arrival and are respected and appreciated for the contribution they make to their adopted country.

    Many Brits who voted for Brexit did so because they belived it was the right course of action for the UK to regain control of its borders and soverntity. If we chose not to live in the UK we cant complain about the decision of those that remain in the country.

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    • How many Brits voted for Brexit because they didn’t understand the controls that every EU country has over immigration, that this country all too often failed to implement?

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  7. Simple answer to those who want a foot in both camps, choose where you want your residency, EU country of your choice or UK
    Not rocket science.

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    • Why do they have to make that choice? What is wrong with how things were before, which enabled people to travel and live freely in the EU. This encouraged cross cooperation, education, business, friendship, etc. Plus, of course, it takes time to get citizenship and in the meantime they have been disenfranchised. They are entitled to be cross about that!

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  8. Unfortunately we all generally want our cake and half penny, we want what we can get from our mother country but also benefits of living elsewhere without fully committing to that elsewhere, its human nature.

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  9. Ashamed of Britain post Brexit applies just as much to those of us still living in the UK. The only way we as a race are going to survive is to work together for the common good of humanity. Brexit was a clear indication that the UK was not buying into this although 2 thirds of us didn’t vote for it. The madness of the lying referendum campagne meant less than 32% of the electorate voted for it. Coupled with our outdated “first past the post” election system means that a large majority of the country feel disenfrancised and caught up in a system where our voices are never heard by those in power. The UK will never be a United Kingdom again until England has the similar election system as the devolved nations. The prospext of this is very small given the hold of the right wing on the media and thus the political agenda. So I and my family looked doomed to constantly feeling the need to apologise for the actions of a government which doesn’t represent the views of the majority of voters in England.

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