Brexit a hard day′s night for Brits in Hamburg | News | DW | 06.02.2019
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Brexit

Brexit a hard day's night for Brits in Hamburg

Widely claimed as the birthplace of The Beatles, no other German city has the British flair of Hamburg. But with the UK's exit from the EU looming, a post-Brexit future is proving hard to come together in the port city.

On Hamburg's Beatlesplatz, a small group of tourists shiver in the biting wind. The memorial to the Fab Four's early years, spent touring the bars of the German port city, is just one indicator of the city's close ties with the UK, centuries after merchants from Hamburg first started business with London.

With 4,000 Brits now living in the Hanseatic town, fish and chips, a full English breakfast or just a good "cuppa" are never far away. But the long and winding road to Brexit has left Hamburg's 4,000 Brits calling for help.

Beatlesplatz, Hamburg, Germany

Tourist territory: Beatlesplatz in Hamburg

Among them is Gibbo Kemp. Following in the footsteps of the Beatles, the Liverpudlian first arrived in Hamburg in 1963, where he found work playing in the house band at Hamburg's "Star Club."

Now the landlord of "The English Pub," the 72-year-old has been pulling in punters for the past 16 years. Inside, Union Jacks flags are draped around the windows; photos of The Queen and the Beatles decorate the deep red walls and the sweet smell of old beer soaked into the bar sparks a nostalgia of northern England. But just how long that beer will keep flowing is unclear. A disorderly Brexit could leave Gibbo without the pints to pull.

Hamburg pub landlord Gibbo Kemp

Publican Gibbo Kemp: "The government's making a fool of us"

"My supplier's stockpiling it and then I'll see what happens. Otherwise, I'll have to change my strategy. I haven't got a clue. I really haven't got a clue. They, as one of the world's major brewers, haven't got a clue either."

Gibbo isn't alone in his concerns. Amid the torrent of speculation and uncertainty over worst case scenarios, support group "British in Germany” is working tirelessly to keep Brits in Germany in the know, both on social media and at special information evenings.

Read more: Brexit causes record number of Britons to be granted German citizenship

British in Germany representative Ellie Sellwood

Ellie Sellwood, representative of the British in Germany organization: UK citizens are very worried about not being able to to stay in the EU after Brexit

"The biggest concerns right now is whether they're going to hit the right criteria to get the permanent residency," representative Ellie Sellwood tells DW. "People are really worried that they're going to fall through the cracks and not going to be given the status they need to stay here."

Since the referendum in June 2016, more than 800 Brits in Hamburg have adopted dual German citizenship. After avoiding the infamous German bureaucracy for months, it's Gibbo's turn.

"I just kept putting it off," he says. "I genuinely thought that Brexit would never happen."

Read more: Worries about Brexit, Brits stockpile food, supplies

Watch video 03:02

Brits living in Hamburg get nervous about Brexit

Deal or no deal?

Under the current draft Brexit deal, Brits in Germany would be guaranteed the same rights as other EU citizens until the end of 2020. But on one condition: That the UK leaves the EU with a Brexit deal. A "hard Brexit" – in which the UK would crash out of the EU without a deal – would result in a transition period of just three months.

Despite efforts by many Brits to prepare for the worst-case scenario, many have found themselves in a vicious circle of bureaucracy. Until the UK leaves the EU, most alternative options for residency are out of bounds for Brits while they still have European citizenship.

Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel's optimism this week that there's still time to avoid a hard Brexit, the UK government remains divided on the draft Brexit deal — leaving frustrated Brits, both in Germany and across the EU, with more questions than answers.

"The government's making a fool of us," says pub landlord Gibbo Kemp. "They're making a complete fool out of themselves. And us lot, who just happen to be British."

Watch video 26:06

Brexit Special: How did we get here?

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