As an expat financial services specialist, Blacktower is always keen to hear about Britons who are making the decision to live permanently abroad, but one recent news story has left us, like many others, feeling a little perplexed, to say the least.
Permanent expats in France will soon be able to count leading Brexiteer Nigel Lawson amongst their number as the former UK chancellor of the exchequer has applied for his carte de séjour (permanent residency card).
The former Conservative cabinet member and one-time chair of the “Vote Leave” campaign has been branded a hypocrite by many in the British media, as he seeks full resident’s rights while he lives, as he has done so for many years, in his Gascony mansion in south-west France.
In an interview with the French English-language newspaper The Connexion, Lawson sounded nonchalant about his decision, suggesting that the bureaucracy surrounding the application and developments such as Etias (the EU visa-waiver plan) were not a concern for himself and shouldn’t be considered so for other expats either.
Application problems for some expats
However, the Guardian reports that many Britons in France have already encountered problems with the residency card paperwork and fulfilling the necessary criteria.
Lawson was unfazed, suggesting that it was just a “tiresome rather than serious” issue.
Campaigners for Expat rights have been quick to react, with many citing the hypocrisy of the issue as well as general disgust for Lawson’s “blasé attitude”.
Debbie Williams, founder of BHOV (Brexpats – Hear Our Voice) said, “His comment about things being tiresome is pretty insulting to thousands of people who are going through a lot of hassle, expense and anxiety to get papers in order, all because of a vote they had no say in. Most folk don’t have the means he has… Like many, his thoughts upon loss of rights seem to relate only to his personal circumstances.”
Concern for the future
For many, the issue of preserving rights for all Britons including current expats is one thing – something Lawson has discussed at length in his reasons for supporting Brexit – but it is the potential loss of freedom of movement and the right to work and travel freely in the EU for future generations that has also sparked indignation.
Labour MP Andrew Adonis tweeted, “Good for Lord Lawson to live in France with full EU rights. Shameful that he is undermining right of others to follow suit.”
Expat financial services providers can help
While we can’t undo the issues caused by Brexit, the team at Blacktower in France and across Europe, can help expats as they approach the eventual shift. By planning in advance and seeking help where you need it, you will be as best prepared as possible when Britain’s exit from the EU finally takes place.