Amid Brexit upheaval, vive la France?
Paris — Catherine Norris Trent, a British citizen who has lived in Paris since 2007, rushed to become French before her native country left the European Union. She worried Brexit might force her to leave her French partner and their two young children.
While the EU has promised to allow Britons living in France and other member countries to stay after the U.K. pulls out, Norris Trent said she saw French citizenship as the one certain way to protect her right to remain.
“Brexit was definitely a factor that gave my request urgency,” said Norris Trent, 38, a television journalist who is among France’s estimated 150,000 British residents.
“I don’t want my family to be split apart. It’s a terrifying prospect.”
As France conferred her second nationality during a spectacular one-hour ceremony last week, Norris Trent left her politics-induced fears at the door of Paris’ monumental Pantheon, where French literary luminaries such as Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Emile Zola are buried.
Hundreds of kilometers away in Brussels, British Prime Minister Theresa May waited to find out if the leaders of the 27 remaining EU countries would agree to delay Brexit day.
For almost two years, Britain’s departure was set to take effect this month, on March 29.
But U.K. lawmakers have refused to approve the agreement on withdrawal terms and future relations May’s government negotiated with the EU, creating fears of a disruptive “no-deal Brexit.”
The European leaders refused to extend the Brexit deadline until June 30 as May requested.
Instead, they said Britain’s pull-out could wait until May 22 if the prime minister could persuade Parliament to pass the twice-rejected agreement.
If lawmakers still refuse the deal, the leaders gave Britain until April 12 to choose between leaving the EU without a divorce deal and setting a radically different path such as revoking the decision to leave.
“I don’t recognize the rhetoric in the U.K. anymore. I don’t want to close the door on the European project,” Norris Trent said. “This is about protecting my family against populism and closing borders,” she said.