Letters to the Editor about our Brexit Report editorial from our April/May 2016 issue.
I think the most frightening thing about Boris Johnson is his obvious political opportunism and disregard for what’s really best for Britain. His campaign is devoid of policies or plans and extremely bereft of facts. He was once for staying in the EU, then he was for leaving but has no plan and keeps changing his tune. We could do like Norway or Switzerland (except they had to adopt Schengen). Then we could do like Canada, then we couldn’t. Number 10 is all he cares about.
Peter Jewson, by email
You are correct in one can only offer probabilities in respect of future health care provision in France for expats. Although it is indeed logical for present arrangements to remain unchanged. It is probable, although not inevitable, existing pensioners will retain their rights via their S1 (formerly E121). But there is a category of people who could be seriously affected by a Brexit.
Enshrined in EU treaties is the free movement of labour. However this principle is of little use if healthcare rights are not portable too. Because of improved transport links and particularly budget airlines, operating from provincial as well as major airports, it is entirely possible to live in France and work in the UK. The exact circumstances can vary but here is one example.
A spouse, usually the husband and a French resident, spends the working week in the UK and returns to the France at the weekend. As a result of paying UK National Insurance (NI) contributions, he can obtain a S1 and this will give him and his family the same level of health cover as every other French resident enjoys at no extra cost. But unlike the S1 issued to the pensioner, which is valid for life, in the case of the S1 issued to this worker it is usually valid for a year. But it is renewable assuming the basic employment circumstances remain unchanged. Automatic renewal is far from assured in the event of a Brexit. Both the French and British governments could cynically exploit Brexit to maximise disruption to this family.
The UK government would still collect NI contributions (assuming, of course, he would still be permitted to work in the UK). But because the UK was now outside the EU there would be no obligation or even right to issue a S1. He may not even have health cover whilst working in the UK. He is a French resident and the only qualification for NHS treatment is UK residency unless, of course, you are resident of another EU state and able to take advantage of reciprocal arrangements. Because of acquired rights he and his family could affiliate to the “Sécu” under residence criteria but that would involve a financial contribution.
Looking 20-30 years ahead, it is impossible to predict whether Brexit will be ultimately advantageous to the UK and to what degree. But it is reasonable to forecast significant disruption to the plans of thousands of families for perhaps a decade or more. Health care would be but one factor in this disruptive mix.
Peter Owen, Expathealthdirect
The Brexiters continually throw the “scaremongering” argument out, but I am scared, and I have yet to get any comfort from any of the Leave campaigns. I cannot see an angle where anyone who investigates the facts would decide that a Brexit is a good idea. The Brexit argument seems to be based on some kind of fairyland notion that everyone will do all they can to support the British if they leave.
It’s not going to happen!
David Quinn, by email
Isn’t it ironic that Nigel Farage should call for a second referendum in the event that there is a narrow majority in favour of staying in the EU? I seem to recall that one of his criticisms of the EU is that whenever there is a referendum the EU dislike they have another one until they get the right result. Will he want a second referendum if there is a narrow majority in favour of leaving? What a hypocrite!
Helen Harris, by email
I have still to hear a decent reason for leaving. My big worry is that the main problem with democracy is stupid is allowed to vote en masse and most people in the UK over the last few decades have lost interest in politics and take no notice of it. Suddenly they are all experts again, and seeing some of the posts they make, I use the word “experts” very loosely. I’ve even seen one or two say that without the EU to bind us we might even get St George’s Day as a holiday. Yes, stupid like this gets a say. Stupid might just win the day.
I did take your prediction that Brexit would mean an increase in airfares with a pinch of salt and I couldn’t understand why that would be. Carolyn McCall of easyJet is one of the best business minds in the airline industry. If she’s worried, we should all be. Ms McCall has outlined her concerns very well in the British press. I never thought I’d agree with Michael O’Leary on anything either!
Glenn Somers, by email
When you gotta go...
My wife and I are both 71 years old. We have the French Carte Vitale because we retired to France. At first we thought that this wouldn’t change if the UK left the EU because it is in the interest of both countries to keep reciprocal rights. It now seems that this is not the case because most French people in the UK are young, healthy, working and paying National Insurance.
A higher proportion of British residents in France do not work, either because they are retired or have sterling income from UK investments or pensions. Some work in the UK and commute. It would not be in the interest of the French to cover these people so they would need private insurance purchased with a devalued pound, which my wife and I couldn’t afford to do. So we would have to return to the UK for financial reasons. We have voted by post to remain in the EU.
Harold & Gillian Wells, Fayence
How many UK citizen European residents will be forced to return to the UK if health care and inflation protection and citizenship protection do not continue? The quitters have said there will “probably” be replacement agreements but clearly do not care. How are they going to cope when several hundred thousand retired UK citizens return to the UK with health problems and houses they cannot use or sell in mainland Europe? The truth is the politician quitters do not care about them at all - they only care about being powerful in an isolated England (I think Scotland and Ireland will remain in EU).
Bill Watts, by email
The way we were
I don’t think many people will be forced to leave France for legal reasons but many will have to leave for financial reasons, especially those with sterling incomes like UK pensioners and those who will not still be covered by the current reciprocal healthcare arrangements. Many will need private health insurance for the rest of their lives just like they did 25 years ago. The older you get, the more expensive that was. I remember those days all too well.
Christopher Ellis, by email
Scroll down this page to “See Also”, below the comments area, for the full report and more articles on Brexit and the UK EU Referendum.