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Brexit: the French in London cling to England

The song “Douce France” escapes from one of the barges on the Regent Canal, in east London. Hanging on the boat, the French flag, on which is represented a baker, baguette in hand. This barge is the Floating Bakery, a floating bakery launched by Lindsay Morel-Huguet and Jérémy Huguet, two French people from the Paris region, during the coronavirus crisis. If they play on the “French Touch” to sell their baguettes and croissants, their home has been England for nearly ten years.

Brexit has caused some concern in their lives, but the uncertainty over the signing of a trade agreement between the UK and the Union does not really disturb them. “Nothing will change for us,” says Lindsay. We bought this barge, if we want to leave, we can cross the Channel and settle anywhere there is water! “

At worst, Lindsay Morel-Huguet and her husband will move their Floating Bakery to the other side of the Channel, a barge transformed into a floating bakery. / LP / Maya Carrère

They both have “settled status”, the permit which allows Europeans from the United Kingdom who have been living for five years to remain under the same conditions. But Lindsay admits that the climate is anxiety-provoking. “With the fall of the pound, knowing that we no longer have the same purchasing power in France worries us a little. “

“For everything that is fresh, it will be complicated”

Eléonore Deneuve, who set up the Cheezelo boutique three years ago, will be directly affected if negotiations fail. His establishment, halfway between the cheese factory and the tasting room, is a stone’s throw from Saint-Pancras station. Failure to agree will result in a price increase she estimates of 15-25%.

“80% of my products are imported from Europe, whether it is French or Italian wines, or Spanish cheeses,” she laments. The tax to import mozzarella should cost me 140 euros per 100 kg, for example. So I anticipate a price increase and my clients are aware of it. Eléonore is also worried about transport delays.

Brexit: the French in London cling to England
Eléonore Deneuve estimates the increase in product prices of 15 to 25%, which she will have to pass on in her shop, Cheezelo./LP/Maya Carrère

“For transport from Dover, the trucks could get stuck for a week. For everything that is fresh, it will be complicated. If her business becomes too difficult, she considers several options such as returning to her old business of managing IT services. On the other hand, she has lived here for 16 years and obtained the status of permanent residence, the return to France is out of the question.

“People always want to come”

Jérémie Leroy, met a few steps away, in the King Cross district, does not plan to leave the British capital either. He created the practical information site Les Français à Londres and his business is not affected in itself by the signing of an agreement. But he continues to observe the uncertainties associated with Brexit. “Advertisers are always cautious,” he comments. On the other hand, through his site, he observes that the attraction of the French for London is not diminishing. “Internet users ask a lot of questions about work and our audience in September was 50% French. People always want to come. “

Brexit: the French in London cling to England
Via his practical information site, Jérémie Leroy observes that the attraction of the French for London is not diminishing./LP/Maya Carrère

To benefit from the same conditions, the French have to hurry because they have until December 31 to obtain this famous “setteld status”. But, according to European rights associations, it is not a panacea either. “There is no card that proves this status and dematerialization poses a problem,” explains Nicolas Hatton, president of the “The 3 Millions” movement. If there is a network problem, for example, it could prevent us from proving our right to reside and re-enter the UK. A landlord or employer will need to check our status online. This already creates cases of discrimination. “

An amendment to the post-Brexit immigration law has been proposed to create physical proof of this status. The final verdict is expected to fall on Monday, October 19.

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