I hadn't planned on posting today but …. As you may (or may not) know, Brexit "goes live" tomorrow night and I'm gutted in a way, but now I just want to get on with it and move forward. I think it's been too divisive and at this point que sera! Both on this side of the channel and the other, what will be will be! The British Embassies (certainly the Embassy in France) have been wonderful trying to keep expat Brits in the loop as much as was possible given all the uncertainty. Anyway, now that the Withdrawal Agreement has been signed it will hopefully alleviate some of the worries that many had, particularly regarding health care coverage in the EU and uprated UK pensions. I've been following a tremendous group called British in Europe who, along with The 3 Million (referring to EU residents in the UK), have been doing sterling work fighting for our rights. Sadly citizens' rights have been very much overlooked on the grounds that "oh you'll be all right" kinda thing! Well, actually, no, "you'll be all right" was never a given for so many, and still isn't. But now I just want it to be over so that I can get my papers in order (gonna request my permit on Monday) and also move ahead with my request for citizenship - although that will take longer of course.
To that end, I've been sitting down reading the Livret du Citoyen (the Citizens' Manual, if you will) in the evenings to try to take in background information on France, its constitution, its system of government, it's history and culture and so on. To be honest I have a hard time staying awake as I'm certainly not into French philosophers or French pop music (that's a misnomer as far as I'm concerned), but I have no problem having to learn this stuff because ... why not? Even if it bores the pants of you you should know some of this stuff, although apparently most of the ladies at my sewing club on Monday night didn't know the half of it. So anyway …. today on FB one of the expat Brit groups asked what common misbeliefs we had encountered from friends and family regarding what would happen to us after Brexit. Now my sister has lived in Denmark for over 40 years and I've been in France over 30 years so you'd think my family would at least have an inkling of some of the difficulties we are facing now that we are leaving the EU wouldn't you! Well no, despite that my family all voted "leave", with the exception of my brother who died last year (God love ya Phil). Oh well, whatever, we just have to agree to differ!
So I wrote on FB that when I met up with Steve in Greece a couple of years back I also met his brother and his wife. They were a lovely couple and we got along well. They had all voted "leave", and this despite Steve's dad being Polish, but then that's their prerogative! I decided not to get into it with them because they were nice people and you should never talk politics or religion in unknown waters right? But then the wife told me that she and her husband were intending to move to Spain in a couple of years when the husband, Steve's brother, retired! Now Steve had told me that they only had UK state pensions to retire on and no savings because, according to Steve, the wife was a real spendthrift and the husband would complain bitterly to Steve about it after he'd had a few drinks! So I asked her, before they put their house on the market and started house-hunting in Spain, if had they looked into the income requirement as a citizen of a "third, non-EU country" - which is obviously much higher than that required of an EU citizen? And I got a blank stare. And then I asked her, if the UK wouldn't guarantee their medical coverage, could they afford to pay private medical insurance on top of the minimum income to cover their life in Spain as this would be a requirement? And again I got the "deer in the headlights" stare. It obviously hadn't occurred to them that the restrictions being imposed on those "damn EU immigrants in the UK" would now apply to them if they wanted to move to Spain. They just hadn't given it a thought! I'm not knocking them, but it was very definitely a foolish move to be thinking about taking without looking into it further!
So I posted this on FB and stated that while I liked this couple very much it was indicative of how little so many people in the UK had thought this through! Most people said "yeah, I've seen that 'penny drop' expression too", but one woman wrote back directly to me and said that "it's a good job you're so knowledgeable and pompous about this" (or words to that effect) and was really very rude!!! Say what! So I said I didn't think it was pompous to ask if these people were aware of just what administrative hoops they would be required to go through if they intended to move to Spain. Indeed I thought it was fair of me to mention it because they were going out to Spain house-hunting but if I came over as "pompous" then I apologized! And again, I liked this couple very much so didn't push it.
Well, since then people have been rushing in to defend me and saying that the only "pompous" (and aggressive) person on this feed was her and if people thought they could now just up sticks and move to Spain (or wherever) as easily as they could have pre-Brexit then they were idiots. I did ask them to let it drop because it wasn't my intention to start a group argument, but up to about 10 minutes ago the argument is still going strong and she has been asked to leave the group if she won't stop being so insulting to people!! Crikey, I kinda feel sorry for her. My first reflex when people are in my face is usually to "tone it down" anyway, which I did I when said I hadn't meant to offend anyone but, as I say, she's getting torn a new one by some very angry and upset expat Brits as I write. Maybe she'll learn to "tone it down" a bit herself next time then!