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Brexit: What does it mean for Australians living in Europe and the UK?

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Spending time living and working in the United Kingdom is a rite of passage for many Australians — especially for dual citizens with a European passport.

But following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, this ritual might be in for a shake-up.

The final result showed that 17.4 million people had voted Leave and 16.1 million people had voted Remain, striking a thunderous blow against the bloc and leading to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

The ABC asked Australians currently living in the UK how they voted, and what the result means for them.

Emma Channon


Australian journalist Emma Channon has been living and working in the UK for 18 months.

She voted — and also voted on behalf of her brother, who lived in London a few years ago and was able to vote by proxy — to remain.

“When I woke up to the news I was in complete shock. I just didn’t think it would be this result,” she said.

“Then I got really angry — I surprised myself — because I think a lot of people have been naive in their Leave decision.”

Ms Channon said she felt the result had been based on “immigration and fear”.

“There has been a definite age divide and I feel a little bit screwed over by the older generation who think they’re taking us back to the ‘glory days’, but the reality is our future couldn’t be more uncertain,” she said.

“But, in saying all that, I still am optimistic about the future. Britain has a really strong economy that can stand on its own. I just think it would be stronger in.”

Elliott Rossi


Australian-born UK resident Elliott Rossi, who works in marketing, said he had spent the past 10 years trying to obtain Italian citizenship so that he could stay anywhere in the EU.

“Starting in Sydney and then moving over here on a British visa and getting Italian citizenship, I felt like I’d just been given the big middle finger by the entire country. I was horrified, absolutely horrified,” he said.

The Remain voter, currently holding a five-year UK ancestry visa, is fearful the country might change laws that threaten his residency application once the visa ceases.

“Generally, you can just apply for residency at the end of it, which is a pretty common thing. So that’s a good thing. But, you know what, the UK might change the laws,” he said.

“Hopefully with the European exit maybe the UK will move away from Europe and become closer to the Commonwealth. It’s all speculation at this point.

Rebecca Giesbers


A UK passport has enabled Adelaide-born Rebecca Giesbers to live in Europe for 13 years.

The 37-year-old corporate training co-ordinator’s intent to stay in Europe is cemented — she and her Dutch husband are building a house in the Netherlands.

But Ms Giesbers said she was “concerned about the ramifications for the rest of the EU and the example that Britain has set”.

“In my opinion, the timing of this referendum was unfortunate, with so many emotive issues playing out at the same time. The Leave campaign was able to use these issues to its advantage,” she said.

The “very disappointing” result has left Ms Giesbers thinking what the Leave decision will hold for her future.

“I became a Dutch resident based on the rights granted to me via my British and EU citizenship,” she said.

“I now wonder what this means for me. Will I be allowed to remain in the Netherlands with only my UK or Australian passports, or will I need to apply for Dutch citizenship?”

The far-right leaders in the Netherlands have called for similar EU membership votes in their own country.

“The Netherlands has rules in place to limit dual nationality as much as possible, so I am also concerned whether I would need to give up my Australian nationality,” Ms Giesbers said.

“I certainly hope not — that would be very un-Australian!”


Public healthcare worker Lachlan, who asked for his last name to be withheld due to workplace-related matters, said the likelihood of him coming back to Australia had increased following the EU divorce.

“The instability here, as a consequence of the economy altering or the uncertainty around the economy, could have an impact on jobs — particularly in my sector,” he said.

The permanent residency holder’s future plans saw him applying for citizenship to work elsewhere in the EU — a dream that now seems to be lost.

“One of the benefits for me to get the citizenship would be that I would be able to work in the EU, which was sort of one of my plans all along,” he said.

“But I didn’t get the passport right away, [and] now it seems like getting a passport wouldn’t be really of any particular benefit at all.”

Lachlan, who voted for Remain, said he thought if the referendum were repeated, the result would not be the same.

“One friend used a postal vote and once she had sent it off and voted for Leave she wished she hadn’t,” he said.

Katie Fraser


Originally from Australia, British passport holder Katie Fraser has lived and worked in Malta, France and the UK throughout the past two years.

Soon to return to Australia, Ms Fraser is sure she has made the right decision.

“Now that I’ve made the decision to go back to Australia, the result won’t affect me too much,” she said.

“I’ve had a fabulous time living and working in several countries, and it makes me sad that going forward it won’t be nearly as easy for people to do that and have the same experiences as I have.”

Ms Fraser said the Leave result had made her regret her “laziness” that kept her from voting.

“I do kind of regret it now though — I never expected this outcome, and the voting was just so incredibly close,” she said.’

Luke Fisher

London-based teacher Luke Fisher, who is eligible for a British passport, said he had been waiting for the right time to apply for it — but now, he has said he “can’t see value in it”.

“A British passport was something that I worked towards with the main idea being that someday I’d use the benefits of it and go and work elsewhere in Europe,” he said.

Mr Fisher “proudly” voted on his way home from work on Thursday. The referendum kept him up at night, as he was nervously checking the results between his sleeps.

“Getting up around 3:45am, my housemate was still up watching and the mood had changed,” he said.

“My overwhelming thought for the morning was, ‘What on Earth have you done?'”

Mr Fisher, who himself was seesawing between “shocked, angry, upset and depressed”, said his “fearful” students felt the decision was made on their behalf by their older generation.

“We’ve got plenty of European students who were fearfully questioning whether they’d be sent back,” he said.

“Others were horrified at a decision that has been made on their behalf by a generation who won’t likely live to see all the consequences.”

Annie Dziadulewicz


Australian-UK dual citizen Annie Dziadulewicz has been working in Paris as an English language teacher since last August.

Having not lived in the UK for an extended period, Ms Dziadulewicz was unable to have her say in the referendum. The end result, she said, left her feeling sad.

“I just didn’t think it would happen, I wasn’t worried at all until I saw the result,” she said.

“I think it’s a mistake, I think the Leave campaign played on people’s fears, and as the UK will still want to be an economic partner of the EU, they will end up following a lot of the same rules and laws but they won’t have a say in creating them.”

The Brexit has prompted Ms Dziadulewicz to change her travel plans — the uncertainty around future visa requirements will have her prolong her EU stay.

“I will probably stay in the EU as long as possible now, and only go home when I have to, whereas before I might have gone home next year,” she said.

Article and Photos by: Eliza Buzacott – Speer & Katri Uibu | ABC News Australia

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