French who have lived in the UK for decades are suffering Brexit abuse, says ambassador

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Tuesday 25 October 2016 12:25 BST
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French ambassador to London Sylvie Bermann, left, and Theresa May at the French Embassy in London
French ambassador to London Sylvie Bermann, left, and Theresa May at the French Embassy in London (PA)

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The French Ambassador to the UK has said that since the EU referendum her country's citizens have suffered abuse in Britain and feel like foreigners where they once felt at home.

Sylvie Bermann said many of the 300,000 French nationals in the UK, including highly-skilled workers, are now reassessing their future in Britain.

It comes after the Home Office recently confirmed that hate crime spiked in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Speaking to a House of Lords committee, Ms Bermann said: "In the aftermath of the referendum some French nationals were subjected to negative or aggressive language.

"They were not used to this sort of abuse in a country where many of them have lived for decades and which they regarded as a success story in terms of dynamism and respect for others.

"And some of them now view Britain in a different way and are ready to change their plan in the short run."

The Ambassador was speaking as the Government is yet to confirm the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. It is expected that their rights will be confirmed at the same time that member states guarantee the rights of British citizens living in their countries.

Speaking of French citizens living in the capital, Ms Bermann said: "Some of them told me that before the 23rd of June they felt like Londoners and now they feel like foreigners, which is different. A lot express a sense of sadness and of course are waiting for answers."

Earlier this month the Romanian Ambassador appealed to the Government not to pile bureaucratic hurdles in the way of his country's people living here, claiming that they feared “administrative harassment” even if they are eventually given permission to stay.

Home Office statistics confirmed that in July, the month after the referendum, the number of hate crimes leapt to 5,468, some 41 per cent higher than the same time the previous year.

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