This is what British people living in Luxembourg think of Brexit

Nine months after British voters decided to leave the European Union, Theresa May is now taking the official step to start the leaving process by triggering Article 50.

After claims and counter-claims from the leave and remain campaigns, 51.9% of British citizens voted for Brexit.

But many British citizens living in continental Europe did not have the right to vote in the referendum despite the decision having a major impact on their lives.

As Britain begins the historic process of leaving the European Union, making the UK the first country ever to seek a divorce, we asked British citizens living in Luxembourg what they think of Brexit and how it will affect them.

David Sinclair, from Scotland, has been living in Luxembourg for 11 years

“The attitude of the UK government has been unconscionable, using EU passport holders in the UK as bargaining chips in the negotiations. Within the Tory party there appears to be a slavish devotion to the UKIP version of Brexit. There could have been a calm way of negotiating the divorce, but the ‘Brextremists’ have chosen to go a very different route.

“Guy Verhofstadt has already mentioned the possibility of UK citizens living in Europe gaining European citizenship and I hope that Luxembourg will lead the way in that respect.

“One of the ironic things is that when the UK joined the EU, the basis upon which Ted Heath persuaded Britain to join was the that the country was an economic disaster, and would be economically stronger within the EU. And so there’s a terrible symmetry to the manner in which they are now leaving – it’s still largely a question of money, with Britain seemingly still incapable of seeing the wider benefits of a united, peaceful Europe.

“Britain has not been a great team player in the EU and has historically obstructed anything which wasn’t to do with the single market. They couldn’t see the wider benefit to everybody else.

“This amateurism at executive level fits with the Brexit campaign and once these things start to become obvious to even the most blinkered people, that’s when the politics in the UK will get very ugly, particularly in England. We will always find small-minded nationalists everywhere but in England there is an arrogant, narrow view.

“I would be all for independence for Scotland and, if you look at the quality of governance in Westminster, you couldn’t do much worse. There has been a rightwards drift in UK politics which is completely at odds with Scotland.

“The UK is run for the benefit of the city of London and the south-east, and the Scots, having historically been taken for granted by Labour whenever they were in power in Westminster, are now being completely ignored by the Conservatives.

“There is growing realisation that the idea that Scotland couldn’t run itself is absurd, and I believe that the negotiations with Brussels will crystalise that argument.”

Catherine Lindsay, from England, has been in Luxembourg for 22 years

“The Brexit debate has been shocking and it has been such a divisive issue so at the moment we just have to wait for the dust to settle. I think it was wrong that British citizens living abroad in the European Union couldn’t vote at the referendum when we are affected by it. I live in Luxembourg, in the heart of Europe, and it has been awful watching it from the outside and feeling helpless.

“When I was listening to the remain and leave campaigns I was torn. If I had had a vote I don’t know which way I would have voted.

“I have spoken to a few British citizens here who were and still are pro Brexit for many reasons. Some because of big businesses having lobbying powers, some because of the amount of legislation that comes from a central organisation and others because of a tendency towards a more federalised type of Europe.

“I think the referendum campaign, with all the promises, predictions, warnings and threats was, on both sides, appalling.

“As a British economic migrant in the heart of Europe I now face uncertainty. I don’t know what’s going to happen and I am, to be honest, a bit worried. My nationality is a huge part of who I am and I don’t want to collect passports of convenience, although I am looking into it. Maybe I am naïve, but I have decided to adopt a wait and see attitude.

“I just wish the UK government had taken the moral high ground by giving reassurance to EU residents in the UK.

“If I have to get a work permit then that’s it, it’s a fact of life. I do trust what has been said, that people won’t lose their jobs and won’t have to leave. Maybe I’m being naïve but I can’t see it being a problem.

“I think the UK government should allow EU citizens to keep their right to stay in Britain.”

John Speed, from England, has been in Luxembourg for 36 years

“I think it’s a historical mistake by the UK to have taken this decision. I think the way David Cameron decided to hold a referendum for party political reasons was very cynical and will prove to be a catastrophic mistake. The way in which it was set up – a simple majority – was a major mistake and not having a chance to vote doesn’t fit in a parliamentary democracy.

“I still retain strong links with the UK. I’m European but also British and I should have had a vote in this. The fact British citizens living in Europe couldn’t vote is scandalous.

“I wasn’t surprised with the outcome, mainly because of the anti-European propaganda and the behaviour of the Conservative government and the way Cameron failed to engage in Europe as Prime Minister and failed to understand how Europe works.

“I have had Luxembourgish nationality for a few years but I’m concerned about the position of British people in Europe. Freedom of movement is one of the great achievements of the EU. The fact Britain has thrown all that into question is disgraceful. The government in Luxembourg will probably be generous but in some parts of Europe it might become difficult.

“I would hope the British government will make the right decision about European citizens living in the UK and I would hope European countries will be able to guarantee the rights of British citizens who are already living abroad. The question of new people coming in will be a different case.”

Ann Johnson, from Scotland, has been in Luxembourg for seven years

“I felt ashamed that the majority of British voters decided to leave the EU. I still can’t believe it’s actually happened. In the days and weeks after the referendum I found myself apologising to my European friends living in the UK. I really felt for them. How awful must they have felt to know that at least one in every two voter voted for a campaign which focused so heavily on ‘controlling’ immigration and stopping freedom of movement.

“I didn’t want people in Luxembourg to think I shared any of the opinions of Brexiteers and so whenever the subject of Brexit came up in conversations I reiterated the fact I would have voted remain and how embarrassed I was about the outcome.

“I know a lot of British citizens are now looking into applying for Luxembourgish nationality but I feel uncomfortable applying for the nationality for convenience. I have nothing against other people deciding to apply for it but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

“I’ve been here for many years and haven’t thought of applying for Luxembourgish nationality so why should I suddenly be able to do it just because I now need it.

“I feel taking on another nationality should come from the heart, not something purely for my own convenience.

“I think Sturgeon is right to call another independence referendum for Scotland. Last time round I would have voted against it but this time I’m all for it. I believe we are always stronger together, but in my opinion it’s better to team up with the EU than the UK. We never know what the Westminster government is going to throw at us whereas the EU is stable and more reliable.”

Richard Russell, who moved from London to Luxembourg two years ago

“I have set up my own company here but, of course, staying in Luxembourg depends on my EU citizenship. If I lose my right to be here I don’t know what it will mean for my family or my company. I have dual nationality, British and Australian, but now I’m thinking of applying for Luxembourgish nationality.

“Because I’ve only been here two years I still have three years to wait so I will probably be in no man’s land for at least a few months after the UK exits, and I have no idea what options I am going to have.

“Because I had been away from the UK for less than 15 years when the referendum was held I was able to vote. I don’t think that possibility was well publicised for British citizens living abroad.It is looking more and more like a hard Brexit and while that’s bad for everyone, it is particularly bad for British citizens living in Europe.

“It’s worse than we expected. The vote was based on lies and assumptions of what would happen next which turn out to be false. There’s an attribution problem and people have been attributing problems to the wrong sources and Brexit is one of the results of that.

“On the upside it seems that in response the pro-European voice is becoming stronger and we may be able to address the EU’s numerous problems and have a better, stronger EU going forward.”

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