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Brexit: For some Britons living in the EU, life is becoming increasingly uncertain

Denis Logan stirs his tea, looks round his favourite cafe and smiles.

Behind him, two men are enjoying a full English breakfast while the owner is chatting about the weather.

There’s a choice of HP sauce and tomato ketchup on the table, and a jar of Marmite lurking on the shelf. On the wall, a painting of a lifeboat, battling giant waves.

Image: Eymet is a picturesque village in southwest France

It is a scene of everyday British life, but transplanted here, to the hills of the Dordogne.

Denis, now 78, moved to the village of Eymet in southwestern France a decade ago with his wife Carol and has never looked back. And he’s not alone.


Eymet is a small place – home to only about 2,500 people – but around 400 of them are British, and their numbers are gradually growing.

It is an enclave of Britons who decided to use the right to move around Europe – to live and work in other countries.

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Denis says he came to Eymet because “it’s like England in the 1950s”.

He tells me: “It’s excuse-en-moi, after you, pas de probleme. You can leave your windows open. It’s a different world here, and it’s the world that we liked.”

Image: Denis Logan is one of hundreds of Brits who have made Eymet home

Denis adds: “It’s spacious. There’s plenty of room for everyone and the weather speaks for itself. Living here, I think I feel more European. I embrace things about living in this country and I am prepared to be flexible.

“I am pleased to be here, and I’m pleased to be accepted.”

Denis is a model of relaxed retirement. He doesn’t worry about Brexit, he says, because he’s lived in Eymet for the past decade and “I’ve heard we’ll be okay”.

But around him, along the picturesque streets, there is anxiety.

Image: Eymet: ‘Like Britain in the 1950s’

Last year, the French government came up with guidelines about how British people could apply for residency in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

But now, ahead of talks that are likely to run until the end of the year, the advice is more sparse.

Few expect the French to bring in draconian rules, or to start expelling British residents, but many would like the reassurance of knowing the regulations covering residency.

Image: Eymet offers plenty of home comforts for Britons

“It is scary for a lot of people,” says Terri Simpson, an estate agent in Eymet who moved to France 17 years ago.

“They do now know what to do or what forms they need to fill in.

“We haven’t had much information from the French or British governments.

“If you have not got a permanent right to stay in this country, it’s inevitable that you will not feel stable at the moment.

“People have come here to have a ‘forever’ home; you don’t want to be in a position where every year you worry that you have to meet some criteria or else risk being expelled.”

Image: Terri Simpson says the future is ‘scary’ for many Brits living in France

This is not a problem restricted to villages and towns like Eymet.

Nobody is quite sure how many British people are in France, but it’s probably more than 200,000.

Around Europe, there are more than a million Britons living in EU countries.

The question of “what happens next?” rarely has a clear answer, but in both Spain and France, which have the biggest population of British expats, the information has been particularly vague.

Image: Jane Patterson runs The Taste of Britain store in Eymet

Along the road in Eymet, trade is brisk at The Taste of Britain.

It’s a grocery store where the shelves are packed with familiar products, redolent of British kitchens – gravy granules, salt and vinegar crisps, sausages, curry sauce and, well, lard.

The owner, Jane Patterson, says that residents “have not been given enough information” – but she is also sanguine about the future.

“Our lives are in France now, not in the UK,” is her conclusion.

“This is one of these things where all you can do is to now just wait and see.”


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