An article in today’s Guardian that I received from several sources, and which has been discussed on several groups regardless of whether “British in Vienna”, “The 48%” or among friends today has highlighted many of the concerns faced by Britons in the EU, and has confirmed my thinking about why to naturalise.The article’s subheader states that the government is not listening to Britons abroad – the news through the FCO, at best a trickle, has now dried up due to the purdah period before the General Election, now only a mere four weeks away. The article then leads that Britons in the EU face a more uncertain time than EU citizens in the UK, the latter after all still enjoying freedom of movement in the remaining 27 EU countries. For Britons in EU countries ( I refuse to glamourise Britons as being “British Expats”, particularly given the fact that many of us have become integrated into our “host” community, rather than exaggerating our Britishness in an bubble-like enclave), the future is looking very uncertain.
The article raises the issue of becoming “locked in” i.e. with the right to remain in the countries in which they have settled, but not being able to move to another country within the EU with anything like the degree of ease enjoyed in recent times. By locked in, it is not a reference to Theresa May’s recent tactic of locking journalists in a room in Cornwall. Part of the problem that seems to so rarely get attention is the fact that in addition to the life of the British citizen in Europe who might be affected in this way, there are also the lives of their partners and dependants – particular in the case that there is a change of employment circumstances. Whole families are affected and suffer by the issue – the effect of Brexit on relationships and families having been particularly apparent.
While the fate of pensioners in Spain and Portugal seems to get a lot of coverage, the issue of say Britons in Germany or Austria get very little coverage. Bavaria, the article states has some 18,000 Britons living there, with about a third being based in Munich. The whole of Austria, by contrast has a mere 10,000 Britons – surprisingly from the 2001 census, there were twice as many Austrians in the UK! While I can count myself fortunate to have a permanent contract with a coveted employer, the issue of avoiding my British citizenship becoming an issue for my current job, and also if I were ever to want to change employer or profession is enough to make me want to avoid becoming locked in – particular if I, like friends over 50 have found, were to have to seek employment at an age considered to be closer to retirement than the start of my career.
2 Replies to “The Brexit Trap – from today’s Guardian”
First, thanks for the great blog. Since last year I have been pretty laissez faire with Brexit and the impact on Brits in Austria, thinking that it will probably just work itself out and things will carry on as “normal”. But reading your posts I am now not so sure. It seems potentially much more vexing than I assumed. In any case, it’s great to read your insight and experiences. And very helpful.
Dear Robert, Thanks for your comment. I’ve encountered a lot of people who have been possible more laissez-faire about how Brexit will affect them – some are lucky in that they have the fallback option of an Irish passport. Possibly the specific circumstances that apply to me and my line or business in the government sector has been one reason that I have being pursuing Austrian citizenship so actively – ultimately positions like the one I hold only come up very rarely and I also realise that I have to look to the future rather than just rely on grandfathered rights. After 17 years here, and not being able to vote in the UK or here at the moment (and with my right to vote in council and European elections being contingent on my being a citizen of an EU Member State), I realise that I value my right to have an albeit small say in democratic voting procedures. Of course I would quite like to be proven wrong by it all – but that being said I am far happier having minimised my exposure to the fallout rather than gambling on it being ok. Unfortunately I already stand to miss out on voting in both the country of my birth and the country I have settled in. Cheers, M