Bristol and Brexit

Bristol and Brexit

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), via a nationwide referendum.

Nationally 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. However, in Bristol there was a 61.73% vote to remain.

In response to the referendum, Mayor Marvin Rees convened a city-wide Brexit Response Group (BRG) to fully understand the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. The group includes local organisations in the public, private, business and academic sectors as well as voluntary and community groups. The BRG aims to:

  • look at the economic and social impact of the leave vote on citizens and communities in Bristol and the city as a whole
  • work with partners in the city to ensure effective community tension monitoring systems are in place and provide reassurance that Bristol remains an open and tolerant city
  • actively respond to the process of Britain leaving the EU
  • secure and develop Bristol’s international reputation as a city that is open for business and can attract global investment and opportunities for citizens and businesses

The BRG has submitted an initial series of responses and calls to action to central government on funding, economic and community impact.

Bristol and Brexit guide

The submissions to central government are summarised in the Bristol and Brexit guide (pdf, 1.3MB) (opens new window) which:

  • outlines the issues at stake for Bristol
  • highlights the city’s desire to work with government, the region and other Core Cities to inform the national response to the referendum

The BRG has met several times since the referendum and will continue to meet for as long as the group thinks it is necessary. The most recent meetings have focused on how Bristol as a city is preparing for Brexit and what we are doing as an organisation to prepare for Brexit.

How we are preparing for Brexit

We have published a No Deal Scenario Assessment that considers the potential implications of a No Deal Brexit for the council. This report assesses risk and identifies the threats and opportunities associated with eight areas of business focus:

  • Finance and Funding.
  • Civil Contingencies.
  • Workforce.
  • Legal and Regulatory.
  • Supply Chain.
  • Housing.
  • Key Operations.
  • City Economy.

The report summarises what the council is doing, or could do, to make sure any potential negative effects on our citizens and services are minimised while any opportunities are maximised. Any urgent actions which have been identified will be fully considered if a No Deal scenario occurs.

It should be noted that this assessment looks specifically at threats and opportunities to council services specifically. It does not seek to offer commentary or opinion on Brexit.


In partnership with Core Cities and the Local Government Association, Bristol has been active in calling on the government to:

  • protect the city economy
  • guarantee citizens’ rights 
  • give cities the power to decide how replacement EU funding is spent

Information for EU citizens living in Bristol

On 15 December 2017, the UK and the EU Commission made an agreement on citizens’ rights.

The agreement means that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK and UK nationals living lawfully in the EU by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and enjoy broadly the same rights and benefits as they do now.
The agreement says:

  • close family members will be able to join after the UK has left the EU. This includes spouses, unmarried partners, children, grandchildren, dependent parents and grandparents. Children born or adopted outside of the UK after the 29 March 2019 will also be covered
  • people will be able to be absent from the UK for up to five years without losing settled status, more than double the level of absence allowed under current EU law. There will be the same reciprocal protection for UK nationals living in the EU
  • professional qualifications (for example for doctors and architects) will continue to be recognised where these are obtained before the date of the UK’s departure from the EU
  • it will be easy to apply for settled status and there will be a full right of appeal
  • EU citizens who already hold a valid permanent residence document will be able to have their status converted to settled status free of charge

The draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and EU would guarantee the existing EU residence and social security rights of the 3 million EU citizens in the UK, and the 1 million UK citizens living on the continent.

New process for applying for settled and pre-settled status

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Find out more about the EU settlement scheme and how to apply online on GOV.UK.

The EU Settlement Scheme is now fully open. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020. You'll need to have been living in the UK before it leaves the EU to apply.

Find out how to get help to verify your identity for the EU settlement scheme if you can't do it online.


There is no fee to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

If you've applied already and you paid a fee, you'll be refunded.

The government's website has advice about:

You can also sign up for email updates.

There is also a helpline you can call if you need help or information about your EU Settlement Scheme application:

To call from inside the UK:
Telephone: 0300 123 7379
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm

To call from outside the UK:
Telephone: +44 203 080 0010
Monday to Friday 8:00am to 8:00pm
Saturday and Sunday 9:30am to 4:30pm

Other sources of information and advice

Free advice on immigration policy

The Europe Direct Information Centre has free advice and resources to citizens on immigration policy, such as the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Europe Direct Information Centre is located at the Bristol Law Centre.

Advice leaflets for EU nationals rights

The Law Centre Network has produced leaflets on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK.