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Expatriates fight Brexit at UK polls

May 21, 2019

WILMSLOW, United Kingdom: Chatting with voters in a small town in northwest England ahead of this week’s European elections, lawyer Sophie Larroque’s French accent is hard to miss.

The MEP candidate is one of several European expatriates making the leap into politics in Britain, spurred on by their opposition to Brexit.

A few months ago, nobody expected Britain to take part in the European Parliament elections, as the country was supposed to have left the EU on March 29.

French EU citizen living in the UK, Sophie Larroque, who is standing as a candidate for the UK Party in the European Parliament elections campaigns in Wilmslow, south of Manchester, northwest England, on May 15, 2019. AFP PHOTO

The British parliament cannot agree on the exit terms, however, forcing the departure date to be put back to October 31 and opening the way for polls that are being seen as allowing voters to express their views on the whole Brexit process.

Larroque, 40, works as a legal adviser in London, a job made possible by the EU-enabled mutual recognition of university degrees.

Determined to fight Brexit, she founded the UK EU Party with three British friends in April, despite having no political experience.

They raised the £15,000 needed to register candidates in three of the 11 British constituencies.

She has traveled almost daily from her home in London to northwest England, where she is hoping to be elected.

She has spent hours on trains, eating sandwiches and scrambling to learn more about the region, all paid for out of her own pocket.

“I’m juggling work, my clients, my cases — it takes a lot of organization,” she said, on her way to Wilmslow — an elegant suburb of Manchester filled with mock Tudor houses with luxury cars parked outside.

AFP

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