• STV
  • MySTV

Brexit fears of Scots who feel 'abandoned' living abroad

Scots expats are worried about their right to stay there, their careers and a lack of information.

By Marina Force

Following on from our feature on the concerns of Europeans living here in Scotland, we have second special report looking at Scots who live Europe.

Many are worried about their right to stay there, their jobs and businesses, and a lack of information.

Here are some views of those who have made their home abroad.

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/1155564851876069379 | default

Saturday, March 30 - a date many associate with Brexit. The first day after the UK's scheduled departure from the EU.

For Kirsten Mackay, a Scot living in Austria, this was meant to be her wedding day.

Plans, though, changed as Brexit and the prospect of a no-deal became "very real and scary".

"I was meant to be getting married back in Edinburgh," Kirsten explained.

"We were told [by legal advisers] that we might not be able to travel back to Austria if there was a no-deal Brexit.

"We sadly decided to push the wedding forward by a week due to just not having the stress and the uncertainty, so we are back safely in Austria on March 29."

'Heartbroken and stressed': Kirsten Mackay.
'Heartbroken and stressed': Kirsten Mackay. STV

She continued: "We lost a lot of money, a lot of sleep, and now I'm not having my dream wedding, instead we are travelling a week before to have a smaller one.

"I feel horrible. It's been weeks of stress, crying and heartbreak.

"A lot of people are disappointed. I had guests coming from all over the world."

Kirsten has been an expat for 12 years. After moving to Spain with her parents, she travelled around Europe and chose Austria to settle "for now".

'It just seems that nobody actually knows what will happen to us. It's like looking down a big scary dark tunnel.'
Kirsten Mackay

As for many Scots living in the EU, the lack of information is what's concerning her the most.

"It just seems that nobody actually knows what will happen to us. It's like looking down a big scary dark tunnel," she said.

"We've built our home here, a happy life. We both have great jobs, a great apartment, a beautiful dog and great friends - and to lose all that would be super sad."

Feeling 'abandoned': Chris Cole.
Feeling 'abandoned': Chris Cole. STV

The ripples of Brexit are even being felt in one of the most remote areas of the French Alps.

Scot Chris Cole moved to France ten years ago to start a business and for a change of lifestyle. He now owns Chalet La Giettaz, which is a holiday destination for many UK holidaymakers.

For him the cost of Brexit is already evident, with the number of his guests already falling.

"After the Brexit vote the currency exchange rate dropped dramatically overnight," he explained.

"About three quarters of our business here comes from the UK, and for those guests their holidays immediately became 20% more expensive.

"Over the past two years since the vote, the number of guests have tailed off. That would continue over the foreseeable future once Brexit goes through."

On a personal level, Brexit has also brought administrative burdens into his life.

"We had to register ourselves for residency cards - these are for EU citizens," he continued.

"But they won't be valid after March because we will no longer be EU citizens, so we will have to exchange them.

'I think generally Scots and Brits in Europe feel a bit abandoned by the UK government.'
Chris Cole

"But we still don't know what the process will look like, and what the attached costs will be as well."

Despite his concerns, Chris thinks he's one of the lucky ones, as it only took him three months to get his documentation sorted. He says for some of his friends that have applied more recently, it's taking longer.

"There's a bit of a backlog ahead of March 29," he said.

Not only is Brexit affecting mankind - it's also reaching the animal kingdom.

"Even our dog is affected - she had to have a blood test for rabies," Chris said, half-jokingly.

"We had to have this documentation to prove that she's able to come back into the UK, if we ever want to bring her back.

"There are lots of administrative hassles that have come up, which are not problems as such, but are things we could certainly do without."

Similarly to Kirsten, Chris says the scarcity of information is deeply concerning.

In an effort to tackle the worries of British expats, the UK government has been doing information road shows across EU countries.

Chris attended one just before Christmas and, although he said the staff were good intentioned, he personally didn't find the information hugely helpful.

He said: "I think generally Scots and Brits in Europe feel a bit abandoned by the UK government."

'Worried': Lisa Mclean.
'Worried': Lisa Mclean. STV

For Lisa Mclean, a Scots journalist in Luxembourg, Brexit is in her working and personal life every day.

Lisa met her German husband in Scotland. After initially moving to Germany, the couple made their home in Luxembourg and have been there for 23 years.

Lisa says the day the UK voted to leave the EU was a huge shock, and initially her main concern was whether she would be allowed to stay in Luxembourg.

She's now managed to secure citizenship, and so her concern has moved to looking after her elderly parents in Scotland.

"The thing that's giving me sleepless nights is the fact that my parents are on their own in Ayr," Lisa said.

"Although they are well, they are getting older, and my thought had always been if something happens they could come live with me."

As well as worrying about her parents, Lisa also has to think about her children who are spread across the EU.

'We didn't have the chance at all to vote in there referendum, which is one thing that makes me very angry because it's something that has obviously affected our lives dramatically.'
Lisa Mclean

"My son works in Lisbon, my daughter works in Scotland and my youngest is hopefully going to university this year," she said.

"We are all in different places so it's really important for us that we can look after each other if something happens."

Lisa's daughter was planning to go to university in the UK to study law after the summer, and applied as a European. The family are now concerned that with a no-deal Brexit plans might be turned around.

"We've had a letter from one of the universities saying her fee would be £18,000 instead of the £9000 we paid for my other daughter - that was a shock," she said.

Lisa says some of her anger at Brexit stems from the fact that she wasn't able to vote in the referendum.

"We didn't have the chance at all to vote in their referendum, which is one thing that makes me very angry because it's something that has obviously affected our lives dramatically," she explained.

"We've had no information from the UK government - but the Luxembourg government have been reassuring people from day one."

She said as a journalist for the English-speaking radio station she spends a lot of time promoting British interests abroad.

"It's just a bit sad really, it's embarrassing.

"The Brexit vote is one thing, but what is becoming embarrassing is the way it's been handled.

"It's just a mess, people on the outside cannot understand how there is so much chaos."

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1436008-eu-citizens-brand-registration-insulting-ahead-of-brexit/ | default

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: "We are pleased that all member states have now reassured us that they will also protect the rights of UK nationals in a no deal situation; we continue to urge them to reciprocate our offer in full and to communicate their plans.

"The government is working hard to address outstanding issues - including writing to the EU to seek clarification on the EU position on ring-fencing the citizens' rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement."

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.