This week we sat down with the British Ambassador to Luxembourg to discuss Brexit and how it might affect British citizens in Luxembourg.
John Marshall was appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Grand Duchy in 2016, which means that he has been here for about three years. His appointment to Luxembourg came at an interesting time not only for the United Kingdom, but for Luxembourg and the EU as a whole.
Our main talking point was, as would be expected at this time, Brexit. Marshall was kind enough to answer a host of questions for us, ranging from where we are at right now in the process, to the Irish backstop, what will happen to UK citizens living and working in Luxembourg, the Costa agreement, and of course what Brexit may mean for Luxembourg.
No deal Brexit - what happens?
In the event of a no-deal, Marshall explains that EU nationals living in the UK "will be able to continue to live there and access benefits — health services, education, etc. — broadly as they do now. And the system that we have put in place in the event of a withdrawal agreement, this new system of 'settled' status will be rolled out even in the event of no deal."
For UK nationals living in the EU, meanwhile, Marshall says that this is up to individual states, and that "the Luxembourg government has put out a lot of information since January on what the implications for UK nationals living in Luxembourg, in the event of a no deal, will be, and they are set out on the guichet.lu website in English."
Continuing, Marshall says that "the reassuring message from the Luxembourg government is that UK nationals who are living and working here in Luxembourg will be able to continue to do so, that the residents cards that they currently have will remain valid until the end of March 2020, but that they will need to apply by the end of this year — so by 31st of December 2019 — for a new residents' card reflecting the fact that in the future they will not be EU nationals, but third country residents."
Ambassador Marshall's own view on Brexit
We couldn't resist asking what Marshall's own feelings were on Brexit, how it has affected his role in promoting the UK here in Luxembourg, and how it has been from a career point of view. If indeed he's allowed to have a point of view?
Breaking into laughter, Marshall begins his answer "I'm allowed to have a personal feeling, I'm just not supposed to express it!" That said, Marshall continues to say that he was surprised on the morning after the referendum but "maybe not as surprised as some because the polls, frankly, had indicated that it was going to be quite close. I mean, my gut feeling was that probably the British public would vote to remain — they didn't — and my job is, as I say, to implement the policy of the government of the day, and that is to implement the result of the referendum and for us to leave the European Union at the end of March."
In terms of Brexit's impact on has career, Marshall says that it has been professionally hugely rewarding given the nature and scope of the process.