I had the pleasure of taking a ride in Thomas Cartwright’s “Don’t forget Brexpats” car on Sunday. ARD were filming for the Tagesthemen, a nation-wide programme that takes a different perspective on some of the day’s news. And barely a day goes by when Brexit doesn’t fall into that category – although considerably less time is dedicated to it than in the British press.
In practical terms, my situation is least spectacular because I have German citizenship and have worked for most of my career to date in Germany. Those who are not eligible for German citizenship yet (such as Elle and Tom, who featured in the report) are less fortunate and their future is more in the balance.
As the edge case of the civil servant, Andre Saint-Ange, showed, there are situations no-one could really have conceived of and I’m sure more of these will come up in the future. So whereas my major practical disadvantage is that I won’t ever be able to live and work in the UK again because getting my wife set up over there would likely be rather awkward, Donald Rumsfeld’s category of “unknown unknowns” – the curveballs that no-one could possibly have foreseen – is where most of my worries lie. These may arise over coming years and decades, and who knows what they will be. But dealing with an uncertain future is what life is about.
For the time being, shed a tear for those whose only hope is to stay put wherever they are, accruing enough residency time so they will be able to stay once Brexit happens. For them, freedom of movement has effectively already ended because setting up in a different EU country would reset the residency clock. They will probably not be able to have both German and British citizenship, but will be faced with a difficult choice.