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Some decided to acquire French nationality, others moved their businesses or their family from the UK to Europe. FRANCE 24 spoke to British expatriates in France about the impact of Brexit on their lives. 

“The main thing for me was that when the result of the referendum was announced it really felt like there was something that broke in me,” says professional coach and consultant Juliet Atkinson, who has been living in Paris for the past 25 years.

Like many others, Juliet decided to acquire French nationality after the Brexit referendum in order to “remain a European citizen”, a decision she didn’t take lightly.

“Initially, that was something that I really struggled with because there was a part of me that felt quite powerless and that also felt a little bit resentful about it,” she explains, adding that the process tapped into her sense of British identity.

New country, new life

Adam Trickett moved from Hampshire, United Kingdom to Saint-Malo, Brittany with his French wife Véronique Kerguelen in 2018. A strong Remain campaigner, Trickett says that he decided to move, on the one hand, to be closer to Kerguelen’s family and, on the other, “to get away from it all”.

“Brexit was very psychologically unpleasant. The language that has been normalised on the television now is really quite shocking and offensive. It’s very, very worrying. I’m really pleased to be out of there,” he says explaining that after the vote his wife felt “unpleasant” and he “felt ashamed”.

Many people, like Adam, have decided to leave the UK, either for personal or work reasons since 2016. Many businesses have also either fully or partially relocated to mainland Europe. According to the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, more than 200 companies moved there from the UK since the referendum. Not to mention European Union agencies such as the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority.

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“After the Brexit vote we looked at our business, which was 80 percent export from the UK, and we could see that there would be problems at the border and so we began a process of looking to relocate our company and family to Europe,” explains business owner 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 does “resent the cost of moving” and thinks it’s crazy for the UK to “make it more difficult to deal with the EU”, its closest trading partner.

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