Brexit Brits Abroad

A major new study is to examine the impact of Brexit on the lives of the estimated 1.2 million British citizens living in other European Union member states.

Primary page content

Dr Michaela Benson, Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths, will lead an 18-month project entitled BrExpats: freedom of movement, citizenship and Brexit in the lives of Britons resident in the European Union. The project team also includes Professor Karen O’Reilly, author of The British on the Costa del Sol, and researchers from the Migration Policy Institute.

BrExpats is one of 25 successful research projects taking place across UK as part of an Economic and Social Research Council's project entitled The UK in a Changing Europe.

The study incorporates a Europe-wide panel of expert participants and research with Britons living in seven European Union countries, including extensive fieldwork in France and Spain, the two countries hosting the largest British populations in the EU. It will examine whether Brexit is likely to lead to a rise in return migration, and what the consequences of this might be for welfare and healthcare in the UK.

Likewise, it will explore what possible restrictions on movement, changes to political rights and social entitlements, and access to services will mean for those that chose to remain resident in European countries.

Finally, the research will seek to understand how Brexit and its attendant policy implications will be understood by, communicated to and influenced by the expatriate community, and how it will change how the British in Europe experience and understand their citizenship and identities.

Dr Benson said: “After 40 years of political, economic and personal integration the implications of Brexit on the Britons who have chosen to make their homes on the continent could be profound.

"By gaining a clearer understanding of their attitudes, experiences and intentions we hope to engage in a more informed debate about how Brexit can be managed to take into account the potential impacts on lives, institutions and services in the UK and within the EU.”

Speaking of the scheme more generally, Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at Kings College London and Director of the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative said: “I’m delighted to welcome such a range of leading scholars to our team.

"These new additions will reinforce the ability of The UK in a Changing Europe to respond to the high demand for accurate, research-based information from politicians, civil servants, journalists, businesses, civil society and the public at this crucial moment for the UK.”

Adapted from News Story released 19 April 2017