The Brexit survey: Results are in!

  • Bank of England - Brexit
Published on 22 March, 2017
Next Wednesday, the UK is getting started on its much anticipated and hotly debated divorce from the EU. Most recently, EU citizens in the UK have been left with their future up in the air, as a result of a failure to guarantee their rights in the British government's latest proposal regarding Brexit strategy. We at found out what British expats living in the EU and expats living in the UK had to say.

Not everyone is happy

What is clear from the results is that the uncertainty created for both British expats abroad and expats living in the UK has left people stressed and very worried. A whopping 80% of those that participated in the survey felt that Brexit poses a threat for the UK, with the top concern of British expats being the freedom to live in other EU member states. Around 78% of British expats had a pessimistic outlook on the future of the country. Nonetheless, 22% were optimistic about the future of post-Brexit Britain. Some participants of the survey were keen to point to the opportunities available in the future for the UK, while others recognised that there were short term instabilities following the vote, but remained keen for the long term future of the country. One upbeat participant stated that “change is an opportunity” and “something different from the status quo,” while another viewed the outcome of the referendum “as a new opportunity for the UK to regain its sovereignty and grow economically.”

What about the Brits abroad?

Many British nationals living in the EU expressed their sadness at the outcome of the vote, with many retirees and employees voicing their distress at the very real financial impact Brexit has already had and may yet have on their lives. Both retirees and employees also commented on the value of their pensions and conveyed their fears as to whether there would be any guarantee over pensions. Some of those who responded said they were already taking steps towards permanent residency in the countries in which they are residing, though, for some, this is not possible. One https://www.expat.commented that they are “having to make plans to give up my UK citizenship,” with others sharing the fact that they had already applied for or successfully gained citizenship in an EU member state. This is not a pain-free process, and respondents drew attention to the “hassles of becoming a citizen that were unnecessary before.” There was also “a feeling of betrayal” amongst some participants, with several people noting a “shifting attitude towards British influence in Europe.”

A hazy future for expats in post-Brexit Britain

The future is far from bright for expats from EU member states living in the UK. With Brexit being put into motion without any guarantee of their rights, expats in the UK are worried about what their future holds. One respondent said: “We had plans to apply for a mortgage to buy a property. Now we don't think we can start a long term plan here until we know what's going to happen with our residency rights.” Another pointed out that not all EU citizens are permitted to have dual-citizenship, which is potentially forcing people to choose between the UK and their European country of origin. Nearly two-thirds of expats in the UK who participated in our poll felt that Brexit has had some degree of effect on their life, with frequently cited concerns being financial consequences of Brexit, a sense of uncertainty, and a rise in xenophobia. However, nearly 20% of expats in the UK viewed Brexit as an opportunity for the country, so it's not all doom and gloom.

Brexit and beyond

It's safe to say that the majority of expats who participated in our survey had a negative outlook on post-Brexit Britain, as well as being unhappy with the impact it has already had on their lives. However, some were definitely keen to look to the future and consider the opportunities that may now be available as a result of the referendum. What is certain is that we are in a period of uncertainty, both for British expats and expats in the UK. The UK's independence may hold a wealth of opportunity, but only time will tell.