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BREXIT

Pound tumbles against euro again as British ministers quit over Brexit deal

The pound has dropped once again as several British government ministers resigned on Thursday morning in opposition to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, spelling bad news and more insecurity for British pensioners throughout Europe.

Pound tumbles against euro again as British ministers quit over Brexit deal
Photo: AFP

The pound saw its biggest drop in 17 months 0.5 per cent to below €1.14 as several top level British ministers quit their posts in protest over the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Among them were Brexit secretary Dominic Raab and Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey. 

“Brexit worries are sending shock waves through the currency markets,” Credit Agricole SA head of Group-of-10 currency strategy Valentin Marinov told Bloomberg. The pound is lower but “it seems that uncertainty could push it lower still.”

Naturally this latest fall — one of several since the result of the Brexit referendum was first announced back in 2016 — will leave British pensioners living in Europe who depend on a UK pension for their livelihoods once again worrying whether it will recover its losses. 

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Photo: Deposit photos

Before the referendum the pound was valued at almost €1.40 however after the vote the pound fell to €1.19.
 
A few months after the referendum, in October 2016, the pound was worth as little as €1.13 against the euro after suffering a dramatic collapse. 
 
The drops were largely as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the effects of Brexit on the UK economy and fears that leaving the EU could leave Britain's trading position in a disastrous situation. 

In the intervening months and years there have been reports of the sinking pound leaving British pensioners in France suffering hard from the squeeze. 

British pensioners have told The Local how much the weakening pound had changed their lives.  

“We are really struggling at the moment and it has made us very sad and angry, just for the sake of a political spat between friends. I shall never understand the mess that the referendum had caused,” Lynda Adcock who is in her 60s and living in Brittany previously told The Local. 
 
“The exchange rate means that we have to think about if we can put the heating on, what we eat and it has generally made a huge impact on our daily life. We always pay our bills first and keep a roof over our heads. That is what is important.”

 
While there have been moments of optimism which have seen the pound stabilise since the referendum result, including on Wednesday when the Brexit withdrawal agreement was approved by the British government, it seems like the currency is set for more tumultuous times ahead. 
 

BREXIT

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

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