Change city or change your life? The impact of Brexit in everyday life
Photographic report from 24 November 2017 to 22 January 2018 on people across Europe whose careers are already deeply marked by Brexit
They are farmers or musicians, entrepreneurs or students, native or immigrant: a little over a year from the deadline, they are preparing to see their lives transformed by the British withdrawal from the European Union.
AFP interviewed five British citizens in their country, and five others settled elsewhere in Europe, as well as five European expatriates in the United Kingdom. Depending on their personal situations and political opinions, they support or regret the Brexit vote. And when some are afraid of having to sell their business, others are eagerly seeking a new nationality.
Matt Davies, December 7, 2017 in Madrid
In Madrid, Matt Davies, a 32-year-old Briton, has trouble imagining his future. “People of my age are starting to settle down, making long-term plans,” he says.
“But it’s difficult for me, I can not project beyond March 29, 2019, I do not know what will happen after that date.”
Gosia Prochal, Polish journalist based in Peterborough, January 4, 2018
In his native country, the important Polish community is also asking questions about its future. “Brexit affects every aspect of our lives,” says Gosia Prochal, a Polish journalist based in Peterborough (central England). She wondered about “the procedure for obtaining permanent resident status”.
William Lynch, January 15, 2018 at Foyle Hill
In Northern Ireland, William Lynch, 63, runs an oyster farm. He exports most of his oysters to France, and thinks of moving his company a few miles further in the Republic of Ireland, if the Brexit leads to the establishment of customs barriers.
“I can not afford to wait until the last minute to do it,” explains the converted firefighter.
To move or change your nationality?
Pip Simpson, November 24, 2017 at Ambleside
In contrast, Pip Simpson, a sheep farmer in the Cumbria area of northern England, is in favor of Brexit. He accuses Brussels of making the negotiations “as complicated as possible” to prevent other countries from imitating the United Kingdom.
He knows that he will lose the European subsidies, so he is preparing to change his activity, and to open bed and breakfast.
At 41, Andrew Ketley has also changed his life. This British consultant moved to Munich, Germany, in February 2017. “We did not want to live in a country that is torn apart,” he sighs.
Barnaby Harward, December 7, 2017 in Warsaw
In neighboring Poland, Barnaby Harward, who has been living in Warsaw since 2005, has stopped considering a return to the UK and asked for Polish citizenship.
“This whole story discouraged me, it made me feel that my country was not what it was,” he laments.
Like him, Emily Macintosh applied for naturalization. At the age of 30, she works for the European Environment Bureau in Brussels. She wants to be able to “remain a European citizen”.
“I feel Scottish, British, European, and I hope to become Belgian soon,” she smiles.
Other European immigrants make the same steps, but on the other side of the Channel. Gabriel Szomoru, 32 years old, has been living in the UK since becoming an adult, after growing up in Romania. She seeks British nationality. “I feel at home here now,” swears the young woman, who graduated as an accountant in England and works in the Kent region.
– ‘Feeling of being European’-
In the business community, it is the legal uncertainty engendered by Brexit that is mocked.
Richard Stone, December 7, 2017 in London
“It is important to reach an agreement with the EU, and fairly quickly, so as to give visibility to companies”, impatient Richard Stone, director of an investment company on the London Stock Exchange.
“I’m a little disappointed to see that it takes so much time, I’m optimistic, we’ll have an agreement but it’s really a painful process”, regrets the one who voted in favor of Brexit.
Laurent Faure, January 14, 2018 in London
Since the referendum, his company, which operates exclusively in sterling, has been spared by the vagaries of exchange rates. This is not the case of Laurent Faure, a French wine merchant who owns a bistro in London.
Because of the decline in the pound, he was forced to trim his margins. “If the turnover does not cover the charges, it will stop,” he grieves. He admits that he might have to leave England, “as a last resort”.
Professor at the Royal College of Music in London, Dimitri Scarlato, a 40-year-old Italian conductor, is trying to look on the bright side despite his worries about his future.
“The only good point in this story is that it really made me feel European.”