There will be both winners and losers among British expatriates as a result of the vote to leave the European Union, according to an analysis by Global Risk Insights (GRI)
The risk analysis publication says that the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote had created a "sense of foreboding" among Britons living abroad, particularly among the estimated 1.3 million in EU countries.
"Once article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked and the exit negotiations begin, the fate of 'Brexpats' in Europe will slowly become more clear – albeit over a two-year process," says GRI.
"Fortunately, international law offers some degree of protection. Those who owned property in an EU country before the Brexit would not be at risk of losing rights to their personal property under the Vienna Convention of 1969.
"However, the same populations could face difficulties depending upon what is decided during negotiations with the EU. Some topics that are of particular concern will be working legality, healthcare access, retirement benefits outside of the UK’s borders, residency, and freedom of movement – as well as tax and inheritance implications."
In the long term, GRI says there could be solutions to the most pressing questions although concerns persist that the remaining EU nations will be loathe to grant the UK too many concessions for fear of encouraging anti-EU movements across the bloc.
Looking at the positive impacts for British expats based outside the EU, the analysis says the future is very much tied to changes in sterling's value. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, GRI says those with UK-based assets immediately realised that their personal wealth had suffered a loss owing to market volatility.
"Canada has seen an uptick in requests for employment from British citizens after the Brexit vote, showing the future importance of countries the UK has close relationships with," says the report.
"In another example, more than 150,000 British citizens live in the United Arab Emirates. As the news of the Brexit hit the Arabian Gulf’s shores, banks began to report an over eightfold increase in remittances from the UAE to banks in the UK.
"This demonstrates a positive side to the Brexit: British expats who are paid in euros or currencies pegged to the US dollar (such as the UAE dirham) are maximising benefits of the pound’s crash by transferring funds home at a beneficial rate.
"Those benefiting from the change in currency value could seize the opportunity to buy property in England, getting a higher yield while making a 'Brentrance'. While monetary gains may not be long lasting, they are always appreciated.
"However, both EU-based and non-EU British expats are also grappling with the reality that their homeland has changed during their absence, and become less open to the globalised world of which they may feel more a part of."
Looking at repercussions on an international level, the analysis speculates that there could be a further, short-term fall in Spanish real estate values, affecting the large British expat population there.
"In addition, many advantages of EU membership – such as lowered university tuitions across the bloc – may be withdrawn for Brits, further minimising the scope of opportunities. In light of this risk, even popular issues related to British expat travel can seem somewhat trivial," says GRI.
"The rise of the far right and its penchant for nativist ideology vis-à-vis immigration — in spite of its economic benefits — aims to shrink the effects of globalisation.
"Ironically, with the Leave campaign adamant about controlling immigration to the UK, single market access may be untenable without freedom of movement. Should the EU-exit negotiations be stringent, there will be greater negative impacts on British citizens living within the EU than those beyond it – even without devaluing the massive ramifications that are being felt the world over, 'Brexpat' or otherwise."
Read analysis of what the vote to leave the EU may mean for for the global mobility industry in Brexit is a reality – a new era for global mobility? by Relocate Global's managing editor, Fiona Murchie.
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