News2019.09.13 17:00

Lithuanians in the UK unconcerned by worst-case Brexit scenarios

Ronaldas Galinis, 2019.09.13 17:00

The possibility of a no-deal Brexit does not perturb the Lithuanian community in the UK. Even though their situation will be affected if the country crashes out of the European Union without an agreement on October 31, Lithuanians have been hearing about fearsome scenarios for months, says the community's leader Dalia Asanavičiūtė.

In case of a no-deal Brexit, up to 85 percent of British trucks would be unprepared to deal with customs checks on the French border, which might severely affect the movement of goods; international financial services could be interrupted, while small and medium-sized businesses face the biggest losses, according to a document released by the British government.

The report, which the British MPs forced the government to make public, did not cause much of a stir among the Lithuanian community in the UK, Asanavičiūtė tells

“It's not the first time. Another worst-case scenario was leaked several weeks ago, drafted by Theresa May's government, so it's not the first time we are seeing, hearing or reading about this,” the leader of the Lithuanian community in the UK says.

“A scarier situation was during the [Brexit] negotiations [in January 2019] when they held an exercise: trucks were driving to the port and back, to see the capacity of delivering products to the people,” she adds. “Back then, there was some anxiety, but this time, we've heard it before. So we're simply listening, observing and are aware. And we go on with our lives.”

Even though the British parliament outlawed leaving the EU without an agreement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that the country will exit the union on October 31, deal or no deal.

Some Lithuanian expatriates across the Channel do consider possibilities of returning to Lithuania, Asanavičiūtė says, but many are convinced that Brexit will eventually be postponed or will not happen at all.

“From what I've seen, most [Lithuanians] believe that Brexit won't happen – that they will keep delaying it and eventually Britain will somehow stay in the European Union. I've definitely heard many people say that there will be no Brexit,” she tells

In order to be able to stay in the UK after Brexit, EU nationals need to get so-called settled status. According to Asanavičiūtė, only about 30,000 Lithuanians, or about one tenth, have sorted out the documents and received settled status.

“This shows that people do not make haste, they are following the situation and will make decisions later,” she says.

Over 200,000 Lithuanians live in the UK, according to official data, but the actual number might be closer to 300,000 or 350,000, Asanavičiūtė believes.

As for the prospect of some of them returning to Lithuania, she says that most do not feel they would be welcome.

“Even though the government has expressed the wish to have Lithuanians return, in reality businesses do not seem to be very interested in inviting expatriates to come back,” Asanavičiūtė says.

Despite talks of labour shortages, migrants tell her there are no jobs for them in Lithuania.

“If there were actual proposals in the expatriate press and social media, I'd think more people would be encouraged to return,” Asanavičiūtė suggests. “Because there is genuine willingness to return.”

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