Leading Tory Brexiteer Lord Lawson has been branded a hypocrite after it emerged he has applied for an official French residency card.
The former Vote Leave chairman, who lives in southwest France, said he had started the paperwork for a carte de séjour, which guarantees the rights of UK citizens by showing they are legally resident in the country. Lord Lawson insisted that he was not applying for French citizenship and was not worried about his status in the country after Brexit. However pro-EU campaigners said the news “takes the biscuit” as others would bear the cost of leaving the EU while the former chancellor “suns himself in his luxury home in France”.
Asked if he had applied for a carte de séjour, Lord Lawson told expat newspaper The Connexion: “I’ve just started, and don’t know how it will work out but am not particularly worried. It comes under the category of ‘tiresome’ rather than ‘serious’. I understand some people are worried about healthcare cover and hope it will be sorted out. Speaking as a Brit in France – and I’m not applying for French nationality – I am not worried.”
A carte de sejour shows a person is legally resident in France and expats have been urged to acquire the papers to avoid complications after Brexit. Lord Lawson said he expects an agreement between the UK and EU over expats and security but believes there will initially be no trade deal.
The 86-year-old said: “It’s not helped by the fact the current government is weak and is not doing a particularly good job. But that’s a fact of life. I think the most likely outcome is initially no trade deal, then after Britain is fully out of the EU and passions have cooled there will be agreement at a future date. I don’t think there would be a bilateral deal just with France as I don’t think EU law would allow it. It’s one of the problems with the EU and why it will be easier for the UK to do deals with countries around the world, as it’s easier to negotiate with one country than with the EU where different member states have different views.”
Lord Lawson also remained defiant that Brexit will provide benefits but warned it depends how the government of the day runs the country. He added: “There are things we’d like to do that we can’t now because we don’t have the autonomy. But that control can be used competently or not. If it is, I believe the UK will benefit increasingly over the years, if not, we’ll suffer.”
Paul Butters, chairman for the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain said: “The idea that the chairman of Vote Leave has applied for his residency card in France takes the biscuit. It seemed to Lawson that no cost was not worth paying to leave. But with this news, it seems the cost will be paid by others while the former chancellor suns himself in his luxury home in France. The former chancellor looks like a hypocrite.”