March 13, 2019 7:55 pm

British expats in Alberta watch Brexit drama from afar

WATCH: Parliamentarians in the United Kingdom continue to work out the details of their exit from the European Union. Joel Senick explains why some expats are growing tired of the saga.


Between the chocolate and sweets at a British candy shop in southeast Calgary, customers can sometimes be heard discussing the less appetizing topic of Brexit, according to the store’s owner.

“I think the majority of people just want to get on with it,” Janet Hargreaves, the owner of Jolly Goods Candy Stop, said Wednesday at the store.

“If you voted ‘Yes,’ you want out, and that is what the majority of people wanted. Then why are they still in?”

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Many ex-pats from the United Kingdom (UK) end up at her store to satisfy sweet tooth cravings with items from back home, Hargreaves said. She said many are tired of the Brexit saga, regardless of political leanings.

“They voted how many years ago to get out and now they’re still not out,” Hargreaves said.

In June of 2016, the UK voted in favour of leaving the European Union (EU) in a referendum. Legally, the country is set to leave the EU on March 29, however, lawmakers are expected to vote on a potential extension Thursday as an exit plan has not yet been agreed upon.

Thursday’s vote will come after lawmakers voted Wednesday to not leave the EU without some sort of exit deal in place.

READ MORE: British lawmakers vote against no-deal Brexit as EU divorce looms

“They haven’t figured out what they want to do,” explained Eugene Beaulieu, the director of international economics at the University of Calgary’s public policy school.

“There’s no consensus on what they want to do and extending it isn’t really going to help, I don’t think.”

Almost 60,000 UK immigrants live in Alberta, according to data from Statistics Canada. Beaulieu said they will likely have to deal with the saga dragging out past Thursday’s planned vote.

“They had a two-year time horizon to negotiate this separation and they haven’t been able to achieve that,” Beaulieu said.

“I don’t really know what’s going to happen next, I don’t think anybody does.”

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