Moving back to Blighty

Nov 02 | 2023

A tale of Brexit frustration, by Val Prinsep, Chairman of Worldwide Movers Africa Group.

Val PrinsepMy sister sent me a splendid cashmere sweater for my 76th birthday. Bright yellow with a handsome swirly ‘Woolmark’ on its tag. There’s nothing very remarkable about this except that the postmaster in our little village in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France asked me to come to the post office for no apparent reason.  Monsieur Rolland has been directing the village postal services for longer than I and my wife Caroline have been in France, a little over 10 years.

After more than 50 years in the international moving industry, and with few relatives in the UK to demand our attention, we knew more than a handful of the planet’s best places in which to retire or, at least, semi-retire. France was our top choice; we spoke the language, bought a house, and made the mighty move from dazzling Dubai to a dreamy little village on the Canal du Midi. The mayoress assured us that the village hadn’t changed much in 800 years which was a good signal that it probably wouldn’t surrender to tarmac and fast food during our remaining days.  With British passports and sufficient means, our battle with French bureaucracy to generate a Carte de Séjour was slow but painless and after 5 years we sported our shiny renewable ten-year residence permits.  Our transfer to French taxation, superior health care and camembert was complete. I was even elected on to the village council but that fizzled out quickly: after Brexit, and no longer being a European citizen, I had to resign.

You see, the ugly clouds of Brexit suddenly arrived like passing wind. We were no longer European citizens, were now subject to the same rules that govern other ‘third country’ nationals, could no longer vote in municipal elections, (or any other elections for that matter), and had to learn that Brexit meant Brexit. ‘Taking back control’, after all, was going to make Blighty brilliant, free, sovereign and, at last, in control of immigration ...

Photo: Val Prinsep, Chairman, Worldwide Movers Africa Group.

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