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!
There's always one in every crowd. There is a British blogger who is self righteous like that who stated a few years ago that since I lived in Canada I had no right to sign off a blog post Cheers.....really! I wanted to make a post specifically aimed at her as she is a bloody bitch but instead made sure I never ever read her blog again and fortunately I think she got the hint. Stupid cow. I also don't let anonymous comments as a result. You are absolutely right though, even though many thought they were doing the right thing they haven't thought it through.ReplyDelete
Wow, so the Brits have the monopoly on the word "cheers" then - I did not know that! There was one British blogger who was VERY popular and I quite liked her to begin with but as time went on she would not tolerate ANYONE disagreeing with what she said and could be extremely rude. I mean, as long as everyone's polite you can agree to differ can't you? From what I understand someone told her a few home truths and she took her blog down, but I know what you mean about "smug" and "self-righteous", she most certainly was. I actually couldn't believe this lady on FB had been so aggressive and wondered if I had indeed come over that way (as it would never be my intention) but seeing her responses to the others I think she has the problem. Some people just don't think do they. And as for Steve's brother and his wife, I really did just wish them the best and if you can stop someone from charging in "where only fools dare to tread" then so much the better. Turns out they didn't move to Spain in the end anyway!Delete
I end most every Facebook Birthday greeting with Cheers! Isn't that a toast to health in many, many cultures? I'd love to be a lurker on that Facebook page Anna!Delete
It's a pretty nice, respectful group because we're all in more or less the same boat and we GET it. We understand each other because we've mostly got the same worries. I thought this lady was "off" but then I wondered if it was me - well apparently it wasn't! Still, I don't like nastiness but I guess if she can dish it out like that she'd better be able to take it!!! And "cheers" to you!Delete
I thought so too Sam! Oh well, good riddance, I see others in our community still follow her but I don't :)Delete
You are so right. Many of those who voted for Brexit feel they are in some way entitled, almost as though the British Empire was still filled with all of it's glory. Being a member of the EU makes them less than special, and foreigners get better treatment and jobs then they do. They are similar to the MAGA Heads in this country who don't realize that America is great, it's just they who aren't.ReplyDelete
My thought exactly Dave. I was going to mention MAGA heads but thought "nah, I don't need that hassle and this is about Brexit anyway". What galls me though is that this couple got to vote on the intricacies of leaving the EU (or not) and now I have a vote NOWHERE! Totally disenfranchised. Can you imagine if YOU weren't allowed to vote in your elections but "Homer one-tooth" was!!!! God help us!Delete
There is always at least one. My husbands new hobby is reading the news then reading the comments to laugh at the stupid people with their stupid take on it!! I'm sure its affecting his blood pressure but he loves it! lolReplyDelete
My overriding thought about Brexit was that once people realised they had been lied to and given so much misinformation they would come to the their senses, however it seems not to be the case! I think Boris and Trump winning elections are examples of people not willing to look at the big picture and hear only how 'great' they are going to make things again no matter how much everyone and his dog tells them this is lies, all lies!! Between this and this coronavirus I think we're all going to hell in a handbasket at the moment!! I hope you have a nice weekend but don't drift too far away from us, we Scots have a plan!! xx
I can understand your husband reading the comments actually - it just blows my mind the stupidity of some people, not just regarding the plight of the expats (because frankly they don't care about us anyway) but all the clap trap about the trade deals that are going to fall out of the sky. I retired after 35 years from a very large organization dealing with such matters and while I was just a humble secretary you hear things. People (intelligent people who KNOW) talk and you listen. That's how I learned that failing an agreement on civil aviation, Iberia, being majority British Airways owned, will no longer be able to fly domestic flights within Spain because they are majority British owned and therefore now non-EU. Oh, I'm sure they'll sort it out but you hear stuff like that and it sticks in your mind. And if the Brits think the US is not going to try for the NHS they're mad. Just like bleach washed poultry and hormone-treated meat! I bought flowers today for a friend for her 70th birthday and the lady doing the flowers told me she'd just come back from Scotland and fell in love with it - so can you hold off on independence until I can get back 'cos I sure as hell don't want to go back to England!!Delete
Those who think that there'll be no requirements put on them if they want to move into the EU are bloody idiots. You definitely weren't pompous - I'd be more direct - blame it on being an Aussie. And I just don't get first born generation of migrants who block others from getting what they got. We face this a lot here in Australia being a country which has a lot of recent immigrants.ReplyDelete
I think I know the blogger you refer to. She always howled down anyone, myself once, if they posted a challenge. If it the one I am thinking of, she now has FB page and is living in France. I follow because she is interesting but never post. She still only likes those who praise and agree.
Yep you know the one I'm talking about. I liked her to begin with because I really did admire how they knuckled down and paid off their debt, but later I didn't like how offensive she could be to people who had a different opinion to hers and found her smug and condescending. Also the fact that she hated people buying second homes in her beloved Cornwall (I kinda agree with her on that) and then went and bought a second home in France makes her a hypocrite as far as I'm concerned. I was thinking about her actually the other day because by my count they don't have 5 years in France as yet and no discernible income that I'm aware of, and if that is the case I don't see the French allowing them to stay as permanent residents! Pass the popcorn as they say.Delete
Maybe they, like lots of UK people, will do 6 months in France (or other EU country) and 6 months in the UK? If I was wealthy, that's what I'd like to do - travel and to escape the heat of summer here.Delete
The thing is now Brits will only be able to spend 90 days max in ANY EU country in a period of 180 days so they would have to do 3 months, a break of 3 months and then they could come back for another 3 months. That doesn't sound so bad though. And I can understand wanting to get away from the heat. I vaguely thought about moving to Spain some time ago but I know I couldn't stand the heat there. I'll take the winter over a hot summer any day!Delete
As a former expat in Germany I had many British pals some of whom I'm still in touch with and some not. My close friend is still working but she was looking to retire in the mainland. I guess it will be much harder for her now.ReplyDelete
Hi Barb, and thank you for stopping by my blog (I'm a lurker over on yours - love it). Sadly I think everything is going to be harder now. I just saw on FB a post by some guys doing a musical gig and they were stopped at the Italian border for 6 hours under the guise of "you wanted Brexit, you got it"! Makes me want to weep!Delete
I'm very interested in hearing your viewpoint as a British expat in Europe. We don't hear much at all about the effects on you of Brexit.ReplyDelete
We won't know what the full extent of it will be until we start being able to get our paperwork together. There will definitely be Brits who no longer meet the "minimum income" requirement and sadly I think some will have to sell up and (try to) go home. Can you imagine if all of a sudden you were told you were no longer entitled to live in the States so go home? And that's not even taking into account that they probably can't afford property back in Blighty after selling up. That and medical insurance of course. But the big one for many is loss of freedom of movement - the ability to travel across borders to work, to move goods (tax free) from one country to another, the loss of recognition of your qualifications. It's horrendous really and the nightmare is only just beginning. For me and my kids we should be ok, but that doesn't mean I don't feel for others whose situation isn't quite as easy!Delete