British residents in the Netherlands have reacted with shock and surprise towards the vote by a narrow majority in favour of Britain leaving the European Union.
‘I’m ashamed,’ one expat told DutchNews.nl. ‘I am ashamed about 52% of them, and very sad for the 48%. I’m especially sad for the young people who will have to live with the consequences of this long after the old pensioners who voted to leave have gone. I’m ashamed to be British, but I can tell you I won’t be British much longer.’
‘It is sad, disappointing news which, rather than resolving anything probably just opens up more questions, uncertainty and division,’ said Utrecht resident Daniel Leonard on Twitter.
‘My wife and I voted to remain in the EU and feel very disappointed that the English have voted to leave,’ said James in Amsterdam by email. ‘Scotland and Northern Ireland have both supported remaining in EU so there will be consequences I’m sure for the UK.’
‘It also means uncertainty in terms of travel, borders, pensions and trade. But we’re happy to be here in a multinational, multicultural city like Amsterdam and will work with others to continue to welcome the outcasts and the refugees.’
The legal situation facing British residents in the Netherlands will depend very much on the new treaties that Britain hopes to sign with the EU.
European constitutional law expert and immigration lawyer Jeremy Bierbach told DutchNews.nl: ‘It is important to remember that even if no new agreement is concluded, the Netherlands will still be a member of the EU and by EU law, it is still bound to guarantee the “legal certainty”, as it’s called, of everyone who enjoyed the rights guaranteed them by their EU citizenship at the time they moved here.’
Under EU law, ‘you can’t suddenly tell someone who is already here and has always been working or self-supporting, “no, now the deal is different”,’ he said. Nevertheless, as non-EU citizens, British nationals would lose the right to vote in the European and local Dutch elections, and there could be implications for the right to family reunifications, Bierbach says.
Many long term British nationals are now planning to apply for Dutch nationality in order to guarantee their rights to live in the Netherlands.
‘I just can’t face the idea of all that paperwork like we used to have to deal with,’ another long-term British resident told DutchNews.nl. ‘Becoming Dutch would be the easiest thing to do.’
‘I just applied for Dutch nationality,’ said John Coppock from Rotterdam on Twitter, who has just updated his Twitter profile to ‘refugee’.
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