The French consulate, at one point, said the number of French people living in the UK was greater than three hundred thousand. In the last three years, the official figures show a decline of more than 40,000. People who’ve decided they’re better off living outside the UK.
Franck Raymond is a head chef who has lived in London for over two decades
A proud Frenchman who says he’ll never return to live in his homeland. Since Brexit, Franck believes French wine growers have made the transition deliberately difficult for British businesses.
"It was easier to get it before, a bit cheaper," he says. "There is difficulty to bring French wine. A lot of difficulty. But to bring Spanish and Italian wine – no problem at all.”
And are the French to blame for that?
“Yes,” comes the reply. “It’s bureaucracy, nothing else.“
9% fewer EU nationals working in Britain
Experiences since Brexit have varied – not just for French people. But, it’s true that many European nationals have decided to leave the country.
Jobs data suggests there were 9% fewer EU nationals working in Britain last year than before Brexit. Many believe the figure is much greater than this.
Famously, the French population in London is said to be bigger than that of Strasbourg, Nantes or Bordeaux. But since Brexit, anecdotally French people say they have faced an increased amount of xenophobia, and the stats back that up.
French population has declined by more than 40,000
According to the government, the UK’s referendum vote to leave the European Union was followed by an increase in race and religious hate crime of 15-25% in England and Wales
“I have to be honest,” says French national Karine Reanart. “I’m really happy to live in London but since Brexit I think sometimes I’m not really welcome anymore. Sometimes, I have to say I think about going home – especially this last year.”
The atmosphere, French nationals say, has changed.
“The first question I get asked is about immigration,” says Si Ahmed. “Where I come from – do I think there’s a lot of racism in the United Kingdom. And in the past, we weren't chatting about this. In my recent experience, each time I have to meet a British person I end up talking about this kind of subject, which I think is a bit sad.”
“When you are a French person outside the UK,” says Virginie Houdelette. “And you want to come here and have some experience, to work or study, you feel rejected because it’s almost impossible to apply.”
The French consulate, at one point, said the number of French people living in the UK was greater than 300,000. In the last three years, the official figures show a decline of more than 40,000. People who’ve decided they’re better off living outside the UK.