Britons in France: Living with Brexit

Some decided to acquire French nationality, others moved their businesses or families from the UK to Europe. Jowharspoke to British foreigners in France about how Brexit affects their lives.

“The most important thing for me was that when the result of the referendum was announced, it really felt like something was breaking in me,” said professional trainer and consultant Juliet Atkinson, who has lived in Paris for the past 25 years.

Like many others, Juliet decided to obtain French nationality after the Brexit referendum in order to “remain a European citizen”, a decision she did not take lightly.

“Originally it was something I really struggled with because there was a part of me that felt quite powerless and that also felt a little bitter about it,” she explains, adding that the process took advantage of her sense of British identity.

New country, new life

Adam Trickett moved from Hampshire, UK to Saint-Malo, Brittany with his French wife Véronique Kerguelen 2018. Trickett, a strong remaining campaign, says he decided to move, on the one hand, to be closer to Kerguelen’s family and on the other hand the others, “to get away from it all”.

“Brexit was very psychologically unpleasant. The language that has been normalized on television now is actually quite shocking and offensive. It’s very, very worrying. I am very happy to be over there, he says and explains that his wife after the vote felt “uncomfortable” and that he was “ashamed”.

Many people, like Adam, have decided to leave the UK, either for personal or work reasons since 2016. Many companies have also either moved in whole or in part to mainland Europe. According to the Netherlands’ foreign investment agency, more than 200 companies have moved there from the UK since the referendum. Not to mention European Union bodies such as the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.

“After the Brexit vote, we looked at our business, which was 80 per cent exports from the UK, and we could see that there would be problems at the border and therefore we started a process to move our company and our family to Europe,” explains business people. Mark Franich, who moved his company PaperArtsy to France in September 2020.

Mark, who is originally from New Zealand but has British citizenship, says he “dislikes the cost of relocating” and thinks it is crazy for Britain to “make it harder to deal with the EU”, its closest trading partner.

Click on the player above to watch the full video.