The British of the Rhône in the Brexit trap

Information campaign for the British, October 17, 2019.

Stay or go? This is the Shakespearean question that capsizes the hearts of the British in France. Since the announcement of Brexit, more and more of them are taking the administrative steps to stay on French soil. A total of 11,603 naturalizations have been validated over the past four years. Over 49,000 applications for a residence permit have been registered over the past two months.

“I was so sad to learn that my country had voted to leave Europe. June 23 was my daughter’s birthday, what a gift! “, says Sarah Green, 56, from the Lyon region, referring to the date of the 2016 referendum. “I arrived in France on the 1ster January 1993, the day the Maastricht Treaty entered into force ‘, remembers this mother of three.

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Brexit has brutally shaken the certainties of this former journalist who has become a communicator, who began her career at Euronews headquarters in Lyon. “For me, a Pandora’s box was opening. If that was possible, then where were we going? “, Sarah asks, adding: “Something has changed in my head, the cursor has moved. Before, I felt a little foreign, like a visitor in France. My children feel more French. Brexit took me away from England, I felt betrayed. “

Requests multiplied by ten

Sarah decided to apply for French nationality. Two years of procedure, to collect the documents of the file, to pass language and culture tests, until the official ceremony at the prefecture, ” very pleasant “. British applications for naturalization in France have increased more than tenfold over the past five years. In 2019, 4,115 British nationals became French citizens, compared to 386 in 2015, the year before the referendum on leaving Europe. The former Britons represent 4.07% of the 101,079 of the naturalized French, against 0.43% in 2015, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior.

Tim Hughes, 52, received his naturalization certificate on March 10, just before confinement. “Our countries waged war against each other for a thousand years, they created peace in 1945, we would like to destroy all that? By becoming French, I keep my European ideal ”, says the lawyer, who practiced in England, then in Lyon from 2005.

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