Where does last night’s vote leave Britons in France?

uncertainty over a possible no deal Brexit as Dominic Raab meets Michel Barnier

Here we outline what could happen next, especially from the point of view of Britons living in France.

The British Prime Minister Theresa May, should she survive tonight’s ‘no confidence’ vote as expected, will reveal her ‘Plan B’ on Monday. Depending on what this is, possible scenarios in the coming months include the following:

1:  A People’s Vote – a new referendum may be held, including Remain on the ballot. If the same franchise is used as last time, largely based on Westminster election voting rights, then Britons in the EU for longer than 15 years would miss out again as the UK has yet to pass the law that aims at removing the ‘15-year rule’. However the franchise for a referendum is not fixed in stone and is set out in an act of Parliament. If the UK was to remain, Britons would retain the same rights in France as now.

If you have been in France for less than 15 years you may wish to make sure you are registered on the UK electoral roll and have expressed your preference for a proxy or postal vote.

2: Revocation of article 50 by Prime Minister Theresa May and/or a vote in the UK Parliament – the European Court of Justice confirmed last year that this is possible as a unilateral UK decision and that the UK would remain a full member with the same rights and conditions as now (including the UK rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher, which reduces the annual membership costs by around €5.6billion). The result would be the same as in a People’s Vote.

3: Demand for further renegotiation of the original deal, perhaps with an article 50 extension before Brexit takes place so as to allow for this. This is unlikely to be allowed as the EU has firmly stated the deal that was on the table was the best – and the only one which met the UK government’s  criteria.

4: No-deal – both France and the UK have expressed willingness to enable each other’s citizens to continue living and working in their countries as now. However this would require new French laws and bilateral deals between the UK and France, with very little time for this to be organised. British citizens would immediately need to apply for a form of third country citizen carte de séjour in order to secure their legal residency status. No transition period has been allowed for at present in this scenario. Previous article: French law will protect Britons in Brexit chaos

5: No-deal with ring-fencing of rights – The UK would immediately leave the EU, however Britons already established in France before Brexit would continue to benefit from the terms that were negotiated in the UK/EU deal (protecting the right to live and work in France, to have uprated UK pensions and healthcare paid for by the UK etc). This would need to be agreed between the EU and UK.

6:  A 'Norway' deal – some British MPs want the UK to ask the EU for a very ‘soft Brexit’ such as EEA/Efta membership, in which case most rights of British expatriates would remain as now, apart from EU election voting rights.

7: General election – If Jeremy Corbyn was to win the no-confidence vote tonight there would be a general election and he would ask the EU to put off Brexit for this to be held and for a Labour government to renegotiate the deal (under their terms). This may or may not be allowed. It could give Britons in the EU more time to continue preparations like carte de séjour and nationality applications, and might put back on the table the rights agreements that Mrs May negotiated (possibly with some modifications, however Mr Corbyn's criticisms of the original deal mostly related to other matters such as trade).

  • Click here to read reactions to last night's vote from the British community in the EU and France and a former UK ambassador to France.

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