Over a third (35%) of British expats living in Ireland are willing to say goodbye to their home country due to Brexit by seeking citizenship or permanent residency in another country, a survey has found.
A further 10% are thinking about cutting their ties with the UK if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead on or before October 31, says the research for foreign exchange broker CurrencyFair.
The survey, concluding in May, compared British expats' preferred Brexit outcomes and plans for Brexit with the views of British citizens residing at home. Expats living in EU countries that are expected to be most significantly impacted by Brexit were surveyed, including Germany, France, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Like almost everyone with an eye on Brexit, the British expats surveyed are looking for clarity"
Over half of the British citizens living outside of the UK surveyed are worried about their citizenship rights as an expat (53%), and half (50%) are concerned about their citizenship rights in commonwealth countries due to Brexit, which may be a trigger for the rush to seek a citizenship berth outside of their birth country.
"Expats tend to be at the leading edge of the intersection between personal finance and current events, and their behaviour is a barometer for bigger trends and changes," said Paul Byrne, CEO of CurrencyFair. "Our research indicates that Brexit may be forcing the hand of expats to seek citizenship they might not otherwise seek, as they search for viable options in the event of a hard Brexit and any negative economic consequences."
British expats are also concerned about their finances. More than half (54%) expect a UK economic downturn to follow a no-deal Brexit, and 42% of expats admit they have not made financial plans if a no-deal departure takes place.
Just 17% have saved more cash - while one in five are planning to transfer their cash out of Britain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
"Like almost everyone with an eye on Brexit, the British expats surveyed are looking for clarity," said a CurrencyFair spokesman.
"They want clarity on their ability to manage risks associated with Brexit, answers to questions about their financial stability, and a clear understanding about their future ability to live and work in the UK. Until Theresa May's successor is named and definitive decisions are made, such clarity isn't likely."
This worry is translating into immediate action for many expats who revealed they are already focusing on paying off any unsecured debt (16% versus 12% in the UK), moving investments to lower risk funds (14% versus 5% inthe UK), and changing retirement plans (14% versus 2%in the UK).
When the time comes to move their money, 29% of UK expats are placing equal priority on the security of their funds and transparency in how transfer fees will be calculated.
A vast majority (77%) say they expect the economy to worsen in the next 12 months and 48% expect their personal economic situation to worsen.
With a majority (69%) of those living in Ireland worried about inflation, 68% worried about the value of the pound and 55% concerned about how Brexit may impact their retirement, British expats in Ireland are among the expats most anxious in the EU. Ireland's economic ties to the UK and the countries' shared border likely account for this increased sense of foreboding.